U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon was carjacked and robbed at gunpoint on Wednesday afternoon shortly after finishing a meeting at FDR Park, her office and police officials confirmed. She was not injured.
Scanlon and other elected officials met to discuss constituent concerns around ongoing development plans for FDR Park, a sprawling and heavily used green space at the southern edge of the city. It’s blocks away from the sports complex where the Eagles, Sixers, Flyers, and Phillies play.
The Democratic lawmaker, whose district represents parts of South Philadelphia and suburban Delaware County, was accompanied by a member of her staff, but the two drove separately, according to office spokesperson Lauren Cox.
Around 2:45 p.m., Scanlon was walking alone back to her car on the 1900 block of Pattison Avenue when she was approached by two armed men who demanded her car keys and personal belongings, according to Cox.
Scanlon handed over her purse — including personal cell phone, federal government cell phone, and personal ID. One of the men then drove away in her 2017 Acura MDX, while his accomplice followed in what police described as a second dark-colored SUV.
“She’s physically OK, but her vehicle and possessions are gone,” Cox told The Inquirer.
In a statement, Scanlon thanked the “Philadelphia Police Department for their swift response, and appreciates the efforts of both the Sergeant at Arms in DC and her local police department for coordinating with Philly PD to ensure her continued safety.”
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the two suspects were last seen driving toward I-95 southbound on Pattison Avenue.
“I am relieved that Congresswoman Scanlon was not physically injured, and my thoughts are with her during this difficult time,” Outlaw said. The Police Department is working with the FBI, which the commissioner said has taken the lead of this investigation.
Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said late Wednesday night that the FBI and Delaware State Police had stopped her car in Delaware and taken several people into custody. He said further details about who was in the car and whether they’d face charges were not immediately available.
Scanlon’s Philly-area colleagues offered their support after news broke of the incident. Fellow U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle tweeted, “She’s Philly tough so I know she will be ok!”
In a statement, Mayor Jim Kenney said he was “appalled” to learn of the crime against his friend and colleague.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in our city, and sadly, as we know, that hasn’t always been the case this year,” Kenney said. “It’s disheartening, and quite frankly infuriating, that criminals feel emboldened to commit such a reckless crime in the middle of the day in what should be a place of tranquility and peace — one of Philadelphia’s beautiful parks.”
The incident comes at the tail end of a violent year in Philadelphia, which saw a spike in both gunpoint robberies and auto thefts.
As of mid-December, the city had recorded more than 2,400 gunpoint robberies. That’s up 27% over the same time last year, according to an Inquirer analysis of police data.
The area where Scanlon was robbed does not top the list of hot spots. About 20% of this year’s gunpoint robberies have happened in police districts covering Kensington, Fairhill, and North Philadelphia. An additional 21% have occurred in districts covering West and Southwest Philadelphia.
Police recently arrested several men they suspect of committing a series of armed robberies in Center City, as well as men accused of robbing 13 Latino-owned businesses in Feltonville.
Auto thefts are up citywide about 15% over this time last year, according to police data.
District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has faced mounting public pressure over gun violence, said his office would extend victim support services to Scanlon and her aides.
“Armed robberies are among the most serious crimes because of the danger they pose to victims and the fear they instill in communities,” Krasner said in a statement. “My office is ready to vigorously pursue accountability when these individuals are located by police and taken into custody.”