Two teenage girls have been charged in a violent carjacking of a 78-year-old woman in South Philadelphia last month.
Briana Cruz-Gordon, 18, and Taniyah Watson, 17, were arrested Friday afternoon “without incident” on the 100 block of Diamond Street in North Philadelphia, police said.
Cruz-Gordon, of the 900 block of South Fourth Street in Queen Village, was arraigned Saturday on charges of aggravated assault, robbery, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of an instrument of crime, and related offenses. A magistrate set bail at $200,000.
Watson is being charged as a juvenile and faces similar charges, authorities said. A third female being sought in the carjacking has not yet been arrested, Cpl. Jasmine Reilly, a police spokesperson, said Saturday.
The victim, Angelina Bellissima, had gotten out of her 2008 Honda CR-V on the 2700 block of Smedley Street about 4:20 p.m. Jan. 27 when she was attacked from behind by three females. She was pepper-sprayed in her face and hair, thrown to the ground, had her keys ripped away from her, and was punched in her right arm and left eye as she lay on the ground, she said. The assailants then drove away in the SUV.
“My car has not yet been found,” she said Saturday. Of the arrests, she said: “Of course I’m glad that they’ve been found and just hope that whatever the law is, ... their punishment should match the severity of the crime.”
Bellissima said she was treated at a hospital for three days, and while there, was told that she suffered a stress-induced heart attack.
There has been a surge in the number of carjackings across the city in recent months. In January, there were 59, up from 18 at the same time last year, according to the Philadelphia Police Department — a more than threefold increase. The trend has affected nearly every corner of the city.
Before the arrests, police released surveillance video of the three female suspects and the attack, and said they were seeking to locate Cruz-Gordon and Watson.
A spokesperson for the Defender Association of Philadelphia, which is representing Cruz-Gordon, declined to comment on her case Saturday. It was not known if Watson has an attorney.
Anyone with information about the third suspect or the victim’s vehicle is asked to call or text the police tip line at 215-686-TIPS (8477), South Detectives at 215-686-3013, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.