PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia prosecutors have charged two men they say killed three children and injured three others when a carjacked SUV they were driving swerved out of control last week, city officials said in a news conference on Monday.
Police Captain James Clark said Jonathan Rosa, 19, turned himself in on Sunday afternoon, and Cornelius Crawford, 22, was arrested on Sunday evening. The men have been charged with murder, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and sexual assault.
”We have homicide detectives that have worked up there in excess of 15 years,“ Clark said. ”They said this is one of the saddest, most tragic incidents that they’ve come across.”
Police were called at about 11:15 a.m. on Friday morning after two men used a gun to force a 45-year-old woman driving a white SUV into the back seat and then drove off, Clark told a news conference.
Police said Monday that the pair also forced the carjacking victim to perform sex acts on them.
The suspects were driving at high speed when a tire apparently blew out, causing the car to careen into a group of family members selling fruit on the sidewalk to raise money for their church, police said.
The mother, Keisha Williams, 34, was critically injured and transported to a local hospital, and her three children - Keiearra Williams, 15, Thomas Reed, 10, and Terrence Moore, 7 - were all killed.
An elderly friend of the family also was struck, though she was listed in stable condition on Friday. The carjacking victim was transported to a local hospital and was in critical but stable condition.
Police said Rosa’s cell phone was found at the scene by a neighbor who turned it over to police.
Rosa’s attorney did not return calls for comment. An attorney for Crawford could not be located.
Charles Barkley, the basketball great and former Philadelphia 76er player, has offered to pay for the children’s funeral expenses, District Attorney Seth Williams said.
Editing by Edith Honan and Eric Walsh