black man trhinking

Charges filed in deadly carjacking: Now what?


JONATHAN ROSA and CORNELIUS CRAWFORD, who allegedly carjacked, robbed, and sexually assaulted a female realtor at gunpoint in North Philadelphia at 11:15 a.m., on Friday, before losing control of the vehicle and killing three children, have been arrested in connection with the crime.

Each man has been charged with three counts murder in the second degree, which carries  a mandatory life sentence, conspiracy, robbery, theft, robbery of a motor vehicle, kidnaping, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated assault, and related offenses.

Press Conference

(Pictured L to R) Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, D.A. Seth Williams and Homicide Captain James Clark announcing charges against the suspects at police headquarters.

During a news conference announcing the charges, District Attorney Seth Williams expressed what many of us felt. He said he was glad to have been a part of “bringing these bastards to justice.”

Rosa, 19, and Crawford, 22, saw a woman who was alone and vulnerable, and they committed a crime of opportunity; a crime even more heinous than we initially believed.

If they had taken the time to think, I doubt they would have raped the realtor (whose name I am withholding because she was sexually assaulted), or driven her carjacked Toyota SUV so recklessly, especially since they were armed and likely to draw police attention.

[blocktext align=”right”]In my estimation, [Crawford and Rosa] cannot be called men. Not only because they refuse to protect our women and children, but also because they took the unthinkable step of victimizing them.[/blocktext]

But it’s likely these men didn’t contemplate their actions as they tore through the streets of North Philadelphia, holding their 45-year-old victim at gunpoint. That’s how a tire blew out on the vehicle, and the SUV jumped the sidewalk, plowing into a woman and children who were selling fruit at Germantown and Allegheny to raise money for their church.

Ten-year-old Thomas Reed was pronounced dead at the scene, and his siblings, 7-year-old Terrence Moore and 15-year-old Keiearra Williams, were pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital. Their 34-year-old mother, Keisha Williams, remained in critical condition Sunday. The realtor, whose identity has not been released, was also in critical condition.

Meanwhile, Crawford and Rosa, the two individuals responsible for the carjacking deaths, ran from the scene. In my estimation, they cannot be called men. Not only because they refuse to protect our women and children, but also because they took the unthinkable step of victimizing them.

What they did, in the words of Homicide Captain James Clark, was “indefensible, and unforgivable. Whatever remorse they feel can’t bring back those children.”

I agree.

Carjacking deaths and the truth about men

Men are there to provide and protect, to love and to encourage, to build and to share. We are not there to take, and those of us who do so have not grasped the meaning of manhood.

Men don’t take women’s possessions. Men don’t take women’s safety. Men don’t take women’s lives. We give women security, and that security goes beyond physical protection. That security is emotional, as well.

A woman should be secure enough to believe men will treat her with honor, dignity and respect. She should be secure enough to know that men will love her children, even if they are not his own. She should be secure enough to know that a man is not out to damage her emotionally.

The men I know—men whose quiet strength forms the backbone of my community—provide that kind of security.  They do so by going to work every day, by coming home to their families, by loving their wives and children, by living their lives with dignity.

They are not rich or famous, but their names are household words. They are called dad. They are called father. They are called husband. They are called men.

In my community, such men are the majority, and it’s time for the majority to rule.

Carjacking deaths and what real men must do

We must teach the fools among us that men don’t take from women. We give. We must teach the pretenders among us that men don’t kill our children. We raise them. We must teach the hopeless among us that men don’t act recklessly. We plan.

[blocktext align=”left”]We must teach the fools among us that men don’t take from women. We give. We must teach the pretenders among us that men don’t kill our children. We raise them. We must teach the hopeless among us that men don’t act recklessly. We plan. [/blocktext]

It hurts to see real villains wreak havoc on streets I’ve written about in novels, but unlike in a book, this tragedy is real. The children who died on Germantown Avenue can never come back, their mother will be forever scarred by grief, and an impoverished community will suffer yet another horrific blow.

That is the truth, but this is no time for complaining.

We cannot afford the luxury of complaint when cowards are victimizing our women. We cannot lament the ways of the past when our children are being killed on street corners. We cannot depend on the system to protect our families when it’s our job to protect ourselves.

So what do we do?

We stop looking for a single man to lead us to the Promised Land, and realize that we hold the promise in our hands.

If we want to change our communities, we must promise to love our women, promise to love our children, and promise to love ourselves.

And after we keep those promises, we must keep just one more. We must promise to pass that commitment on to a young man who would otherwise be lost.

If we don’t, nothing will change, and we’ll be mourning more of our children tomorrow.

Featured Photo © Canstock Photo

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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Click here to learn more about Solomon

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Don Lafferty

I can’t even fathom the thought process that goes along with this kind of decision-making, Solomon, but professionals will tell you that people without hope don’t think about the future when making choices. At least not the way we do. This applies to coal miners in West Virginia as much as it does to inner city youth here in Philadelphia or thousands of miles away in the ghettos of Gaza.

Why would a young man or woman blow themselves up in a market or bus full of innocent people? Why would a suburban teen with everything going for her slide into heroin addiction knowing what’s waiting at the end of that line? Because it’s a better alternative than their day-to-day life. Because when they allow themselves to imagine the future, they just don’t see peace, love and prosperity at the end of the rainbow.

Guys like us must lead by example. Every time we touch the life of a young person, we need to show them that happiness isn’t something you can buy, and bears very little resemblance to the stuff they see on TV, but that happiness comes from that which we give to others with unconditional love. Period.

Solomon Jones

Absolute truth. Thanks for sharing it.


my GOD! prayers with all those involved and affected, and really, that should be ALL of us! we’re ALL activists, ALL powerful forces that can change lives, beginning with those around us. we were BORN activists. we can’t see this happen and think, “poor them,” and go on nonchalantly sipping our morning joe! speak up, step out, mentor youth, invest your time and money, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can – heck, do what we MUST! enact change, ppl!

Solomon Jones