Steven Williams is a 25-year-old accused professional hit man facing charges of four contract murders in Philadelphia.
Police allege that between May 2018 and September 2019, Williams accepted contracts worth thousands to murder the four men, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. All four men were shot to death, three of them while sitting in or getting out of parked cars.
Williams told police he is aware of the murders, but other people are making him the “fall guy,” the Inquirer reported.
Here’s what you need to know about Steven Williams and the murder spree he is accused of.
1. Police Allege Williams Shot William Crawford, Jermaine Simmons, Richard Isaac & Leslie Carrol To Death
William Crawford, 35, was murdered on the morning of Sept. 8, 2018, according to the Philadelphia Police Department’s unsolved murder website. As he was parking his car in front of a home on Hartel Avenue, he was approached by a man in a hooded sweatshirt, and police later found him on the sidewalk. He had been shot multiple times, police said.
Jermaine Simmons, 39, was killed on Feb. 10, 2019, when he was sitting in his car in front of his house. According to police, two shooters pulled up in another vehicle and opened fire from the front and rear driver’s side seats. He was found still sitting in the car and later died in the hospital.
Richard Isaac, 31, was shot while sitting on a front porch in the East Mount Airy neighborhood on an undisclosed date, according to District Attorney Larry Krasner’s release.
Leslie Carrol, 46, was killed on May 4, 2019. He was also sitting in his car, and witnesses told police they saw at least one other man pull up in another vehicle and open fire on him, according to the department’s unsolved murders website.
2. Williams Was Already in Jail When Detectives Linked Him To The 4 Slayings & He Faces At Least 28 Charges
Williams was incarcerated at the SCI Mahanoy state correctional facility awaiting trial for charges including criminal trespassing, simple assault and reckless endangerment, according to state court records.
The district attorney’s office charged Williams with four counts of murder, conspiracy, hindering apprehension, possessing an instrument of crime, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and “related weapons charges,” according to a release from Krasner’s office.
3. Williams Is Part Of a Ring of Paid Killers, According To a Law Enforcement Source
A source within law enforcement told the inquirer that Williams belonged to a group of contract killers: “You go to somebody in that group and you say, ‘I want so-and-so dead,'” the source told the paper.
“All they want to know is, ‘Will you give me portraits of dead presidents on green paper called money?’ If you can come up with the money, they will kill somebody for you.”
A spokesperson from the police department’s public affairs offices declined to comment on the Inquirer article when contacted by Heavy.
4. Philadelphia May Be On Track for The Most Murders Per Year Since 2007, Even With The City on Coronavirus-Related Lockdown, According To Police Data
The city of Philadelphia has so far clocked 182 homicides in 2020. That could leave the city on pace for the most murders in a year since 2007, when police confirmed 391 victims.
City officials told NBC News 10 Philadelphia that poverty and gun culture have caused the homicide rate to rise each year since 2007 — allowing homicides to continue unabated even as the city has largely been under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
City Managing Director Brian Abernathy told the outlet, “Violence is not new in the city. Unfortunately, while our overarching crime rates are down, we recognize our violent crime rate is up.”
The Inquirer, in a pointed editorial in April, took the police department to task for not taking advantage of the lockdown and subsequent overall decline in crime to solve open murder cases.
“If a well-resourced, less burdened police department was able to prevent gun violence and solve shootings, Philadelphia could have proven that in April — it didn’t,” the editors wrote.
5. Williams Is Being Prosecuted by Larry Krasner, a Reform-Focused DA Who Once Went To The Scene of a Violent Police Standoff To Help Convince a Suspect To Give Up
Larry Krasner was a public defender, then defense attorney, before he ran for district attorney on a reform platform. He represented members of Occupy Philadelphia and Black Lives Matter pro bono and his candidacy was staunchly opposed by the city’s police union, according to a New Yorker profile.
In his first week, he fired 31 prosecutors as part of a campaign of culture change for the office, the Inquirer reported in 2018.
And in August 2019, during a violent standoff between police and a gunman in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood, Krasner was called to help talk the suspect into turning himself in, WHYY reported. The gunman, Maurice Hill, at one point even demanded that Krasner show up physically, to convince him that he wouldn’t be harmed if he came out. Hill had, at that point, shot and wounded six officers. The standoff ended without further violence — a fact Krasner attributed only to “brilliant police work” and a “miracle,” the outlet reported.
In his release announcing Williams’s arrest, Krasner said, “His streak of wanton, violent crimes against our communities over the past two-plus years ends today … Despite the closure of most court functions, we will proceed as quickly as possible to bring him to justice and to support those who have been mourning his victims for years.”
Williams is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 1, according to court records.