Social media bragging leads to York City gun and drug arrests

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Posting things on social media are meant to bring attention to the person posting them. 

It appeared to work for three adults and one juvenile, who recently were arrested by York City Police on various gun and drug charges after allegedly boasting online.

“We’re going to let people know somebody’s watching and paying attention and there’s going to be consequences for you,” York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow said. “You are not going to brag about the violence on social media in our town.” 

Those social media posts came to the attention of authorities as York City Police were investigating the shooting death of 18-year-old Amiya Paige on New Year’s Eve. It led the department’s Violence Intervention Unit to become involved 

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“During that time, we were getting information from the community where there were some social media posts out there that were bragging about shooting a gun and some of the gun stuff,” said York City Police Lt. Matthew Irvin, who is in charge of the unit. “My unit, our job is to identify any type of retaliation or any type of violence that could be brewing. Working in coordination with the detective bureau and our other county agencies, our investigation led us to get four different search warrants.” 

Those search warrants were executed Wednesday and Thursday, which netted 2.5 pounds of marijuana, 110 grams of cocaine, 19 grams of heroin, 59 grams of crack cocaine and three firearms. One of the firearms was stolen and another outfitted with an auto sear, a device that turns a gun into a fully automatic weapon. 

Names of those arrested were not immediately released.

York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow addresses recent gun violence, Operation Call-Out and the community during a press conference held at City Hall in York City, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“When people are online posting about their guns and the violence they are going to do or bragging about the violence, it is going to bring the attention to us,” Irvin said. “We’ve already warned them if they participate or help people commit violence in York they will be targeted.” 

Since the unit was established in the early part of 2022 as part of the department’s Group Violence Intervention Unit, it has helped take 80 guns off the streets of York, Irvin said.  

“We’re just not going after anybody or everybody, we have a specific list of people that has been developed through intelligence and working with the prison and district attorney’s office to identify who are the people in our community causing the violence,” Irvin said. “That’s work they’ve done over the last year.” 

It is part of a multi-layered program to help stop violence before it takes place and to steer those who may want to do violence in a different direction. 

York City Police Capt. Daniel Lentz, who helped restructure and reorganize the department’s Group Violence Intervention Unit, said the department is able to have such a unit because of support from city and department leadership. 

“One of the biggest things that we did and we’re thankful to Mayor (Michael) Helfrich, is he allowed us to restructure and he gave us the resources we needed to reinvest in our GVI (Group Violence Intervention) program,” Lentz said. 

That restructuring allowed the hiring of Tiffany Lowe as the GVI project manager, who helps those who may be headed for trouble find things like job training or help with necessities like food and clothing.  

Irvin’s role is leading the enforcement end of the program, which has been able to get a number of group or gang members off the street. Lentz said they have been able to connect with those group members as individuals to help them get the resources to remove themselves from that gang lifestyle. 

“Our messaging has been for the last several years is we have a support and outreach partner that we will help you and help everybody get out of this gang and violent lifestyle,” Irvin said. “We have access to funding. We have access to training and transportation. We have access to so much stuff that we are able to offer things to people to get out of that situation.”