The nation’s citizens are cooperating with federal, state and local government and observing anti-COVID-19 pandemic guidelines such as working from home, avoiding crowds, and other life-saving protocols, but what they may gain from their government cooperation, they may lose at the hands criminals who adjust their M.O. (Modus Operandi) to take advantage of the national emergency.
Several organizations such as the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP), the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are warning about home invasions. Since it is now more difficult for burglars to find targets, there are burglars who decide they will switch their M.O. to home invasions.
About 100 million Americans own approximately 300 million rifles, shotguns and handguns. For the last year and a half, the number of firearms purchased by Americans has increased every month. Tens of millions of our people of all races own more guns than vote for the successful presidential candidate every four years, according to police firearms and law adviser John Snyder, a former editor for NRA publications.
The United States civilian population is the most heavily armed civilian population in history, Snyder points out.
“The United States is gun country. It’s part of our national heritage of freedom and liberty. Anti-gun politicians, media reps, clergy, academicians and others should learn this lesson and learn it well,” said Snyder who serves on the advisory board of the 13,000-member National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP).
A perfect example of this shift in criminal activity occurred in the so-called epicenter of Coronavirus, New York:
U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced last week that 34-year-old Robert Forbes, Jr. (a/k/a Ra Ra, a/k/a Henny) was arrested and charged with Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy, aiding and abetting the possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a robbery, and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, as well as aiding and abetting a violent felony.
In addition, Eric Lowe, a 26-year-old Rochester resident, was arrested and charged with robbery and possession and brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of a felony, and carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to, a crime of violence. The Hobbs Act charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and the firearms charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Marangola, who is prosecuting the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendants are facing charges for their roles in three home invasions in the City of Rochester:
• In the early morning hours of January 7, 2020, Rochester Police Officers responded to a home invasion at a residence on Glide Street in Rochester. When officers arrived, the victim stated that when he returned home with his girlfriend, he found two individuals, one who was armed with a handgun, inside his residence wearing ski masks. The victim advised investigators that a large gold chain, which had a unique medallion of Jesus on it, approximately one ounce of marijuana, a PlayStation, Apple IPad, and $600.00 cash was taken during the home invasion. In addition, the victim stated that the suspects kept asking where the money was.
• Late in the evening of March 25, 2020, Rochester Police Officers were dispatched to a residence on Avenue E in Rochester, for the report of another home invasion robbery. When officers arrived, the victim indicated that two males forced their way into her residence with handguns and robbed her. The victim stated she was tied up with a bed sheet and the suspects kept asking her where the drugs and money were.
• Just a few hours later, in the early morning hours of March 26, 2020, Rochester Police Officers were dispatched to a residence on Wellington Avenue in Rochester. One of the residents stated that the suspects began asking where the money and drugs were. One of the suspects held a knife to a female victim while the other pointed a gun at a male victim. The suspects eventually left the residence with a Gucci purse, which contained credit/debit cards and two Louis Vuitton wallets, a Sony PlayStation 4, two cell phones, a key fob for a Lexus parked in the driveway, and approximately $2,000.00 in cash.
Later on that same day, Forbes’ vehicle was stopped by police and their search of the vehicle located surgical masks in the glove box, a black ski mask in the front passenger door, and zip ties in the rear seat behind the rear center console, items commonly used in home invasions.
On April 1, 2020, while conducting surveillance, officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop of a vehicle being driven by Forbes. Forbes immediately fled from officers and took them on a 13 minute, high-speed chase which ended when Forbes crashed into a marked Rochester Police car. After being taken into custody, police officers discovered 10 Glassine envelopes of a powdery substance which field-tested positive for heroin.
“Eric Lowe was arrested on March 27, 2020. He made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson and was detained. Robert Forbes was arrested on April 1, 2020. He made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark W. Pedersen and was also detained,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.