Suspect Left a Will and Was Acting Agitated Days Before Philadelphia Shootings, Prosecutors Say

District Attorney Larry Krasner and other officials are walk through the neighborhood after last night's mass shooting in Philadelphia, on Tuesday, July 4, 2023. Police say a gunman in a bulletproof vest has opened fire on the streets of Philadelphia Monday night, killing several people and wounding two boys before he surrendered to responding officers. (Tyger Williams/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

By Associated Press

July 6, 2023

Officials said at least one of the seven roommates who lived with Kimbrady Carriker told investigators he was wearing a tactical vest in the days before the shooting and had guns in the house.

PHILADELPHIA — The man accused in the fatal shooting spree in Philadelphia that left five people dead and four others wounded Monday night left a will at his house, and according to a roommate had acted agitated and wore a tactical vest around his house in the days before the shooting, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Kimbrady Carriker was arraigned Wednesday morning on five counts of murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons counts of possession without a license and carrying firearms in public, prosecutors said. The 40-year-old is accused of killing a man later found dead inside a house and then gunning down four others before surrendering to police.

A 2-year-old boy and a 13-year-old youth were also wounded by gunfire and another 2-year-old boy and a woman were hit by shattered glass in the rampage that made the Kingsessing neighborhood in southwest Philadelphia the site of the nation’s worst violence around the July Fourth holiday.

Joanne Pescatore, supervisor of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Homicide and Non-Fatal Shooting Unit, said at least one of the seven roommates who lived with Carriker told investigators he was wearing the vest in the days before the shooting and had the guns in the house. Pescatore said the roommate described him as being more and more agitated in recent days.

This booking photo provided by Philadelphia Police Department shows Kimbrady Carriker. Carriker was arraigned Wednesday, July 5, 2023 on five counts of murder as well as charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons counts of possession without a license and carrying firearms in public, prosecutors said. (Philadelphia Police Department via AP)

“Their way of dealing with it was just to avoid contact with him … as he became more and more agitated,” she said at a news conference Wednesday, just blocks from where the shootings took place.

District Attorney Larry Krasner declined to discuss Carriker’s mental health when asked whether it might have factored into the killings, but said he expected that the defense would request an evaluation.

A representative of the Defender Association of Philadelphia said he believed the office would be representing Carriker, but declined to comment further.

Prosecutors said they recovered a handgun, a will dated June 23 and other evidence during a search of Carriker’s home. They declined to discuss details of the will or whether it indicated that Carriker had been planning the attack.

Police initially took another person who had fired shots at Carriker Monday night into custody, but prosecutors said Wednesday that person legally possessed a firearm and fired at Carriker after his brother was shot. He was released without charges.

Court records show Carriker pleaded guilty in January 2005 to a misdemeanor charge of carrying a firearm without a license and was sentenced to three years of probation.

At a separate news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce a lawsuit filed by the city of Philadelphia against several makers of self-made gun kits and gun parts, officials said that both guns found on Carriker after he was taken into custody appeared to be self-manufactured — commonly called ghost guns.

Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore said the AR-15 used in the shooting and a 9mm handgun Carriker was carrying, but which wasn’t used during the spree, were ghost guns.

“So if he would have dropped that weapon and got away, we would have had no way to trace that weapon back to him,” Vanore said.

The news conference and lawsuit were announced before Monday’s shooting. Mayor Jim Kenney said Wednesday that the city has seen a nearly 300% increase in ghost guns recovered during police investigations over the past four years, including 575 recovered in 2022.

Police investigate the scene of a shooting Monday, July 3, 2023 in Philadelphia. Police say a gunman in a bulletproof vest has opened fire on the streets of Philadelphia, killing several people and wounding two boys before he surrendered to responding officers. (Steven M. Falk/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Police called to the neighborhood Monday night found gunshot victims and started to help them before hearing more shots. Some officers rushed victims to hospitals while others ran toward the gunfire.

Staff Inspector Ernest Ransom, the homicide unit commander, said witness interviews and video indicated the suspect went to several locations in a ski mask and body armor, carrying an AR-15-style rifle and shooting people and occupied cars at random. Carriker’s gender identity was initially unclear due to photos he posted of himself on social media wearing what appeared to be women’s attire.

“The suspect then began shooting aimlessly at occupied vehicles and individuals on the street as they walked,” he said. The vehicles included a mother driving her 2-year-old twins home — one of whom was shot four times in the legs and the other who was hit in the eyes by shattered glass.

Cornered in an alley, Carriker surrendered and was found to have two guns, extra magazines, a police scanner and a bulletproof vest, police said.

Philadelphia police on Tuesday identified the victims as Lashyd Merritt, 20; Dymire Stanton, 29; Ralph Moralis, 59; and DaJuan Brown, 15 — all pronounced dead shortly after the Monday night gunfire. Joseph Wamah Jr., 31, was found in a home early Tuesday, also with multiple bullet wounds.

Investigators believe Wamah was the first victim killed, but he wasn’t found by family members until hours later, Ransom said.

Asa Khalif, a member of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, said Wednesday there have since been hateful comments aimed at transgender people because of the photos Carriker posted online.

“The suspect has not identified themselves as trans. They have only identified themselves as male,” Khalif said. “But the language spewed out by the conservative press is violent and dangerous and targets trans women of color. It’s rallying the community to be violent.”

Krasner said the streets surrounding where the shootings occurred were silent Wednesday. He noted seeing a child’s bike on the ground untouched since the shootings.

Zaffer Qasim, an emergency physician at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where many of the victims were taken Monday night for treatment, declined to discuss individual victims or their treatment but noted the “degree of injury from the style of weapon that was used … and the amount of damage.”

“I said before we started that bullets don’t care who you are. And it’s not just the victims, but it spreads to the families in the family rooms and to the community,” he said. “As the district attorney noted, the streets are now empty because people are scared to go out in the streets.”

Keystone senior community manager Patrick Berkery contributed to this report.

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