Suspect in West Philly Sex Assaults, Robberies Turns Himself Into Police

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross says Robert Johnson turned himself into police Thursday morning.

What to Know

  • The suspect in a series of sex assaults and robberies in West Philadelphia turned himself into police Thursday morning.
  • Robert Johnson is accused of robbing and sexually assaulting people in West Philly over the past couple months.
  • Surveillance video appears to show the suspect holding a gun before approaching two women who had stopped to pump gasoline.

The suspect in a series of armed sex assaults and robberies in West Philadelphia surrendered to detectives Thursday morning.

Robert Johnson, 51, is suspected in a string of sexual assaults and robberies in June and July, police said.

During the first incident on June 21, Johnson approached three people at a gas station on 48th Street and Girard Avenue in the early morning hours, police said. He allegedly pulled out a gun and forced the victims to drive to the Wawa store on 36th and Chestnut streets to get money from the ATM.

Philadelphia Police
Robert Johnson

The victims told the Wawa employees to call police. Johnson fled in their vehicle before officers arrived, however, investigators said. Police later found the vehicle on 42nd Street and Parkside Avenue but Johnson was gone, investigators said.

On June 30 at 4 a.m., Johnson was driving a Dodge Durango and stopped an Uber driver on the 1000 block of Belmont Avenue, police said. He then allegedly robbed the driver and two passengers at gunpoint. He also told the victims he was a police officer and was wearing a lanyard without a badge, investigators said.

His attacks then allegedly became sexually violent.

On July 17 at 5:45 a.m., Johnson approached a woman who was at a bus stop on Belmont and Parkside avenues at Fairmount Park, police said. He then allegedly pulled out a gun and forced the woman into a more secluded part of Fairmount Park where he sexually assaulted her and robbed her of her Beats headphones and iPhone.

Finally, on July 19 around 4:20 a.m., Johnson returned to the same gas station on 48th Street and Girard Avenue, police said. He allegedly approached a woman who was pumping gas and pushed a gun into her side. He then forced the woman into her car, where another woman was already inside, investigators said. 

Johnson allegedly forced both women to drive to an unknown secluded area. He then forced both women to partially undress and then sexually assaulted them, investigators said. Johnson took about $420 in cash from the women before fleeing, police said.

Police released surveillance video Monday of the moments before they say Johnson sexually assaulted the two women at the gas station.

"The fact that he's out there with a gun and accosting different people and taking them to different locations is scary at this point," Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker said.

He is also listed on Pennsylvania's Megan's Law website as a "sexually violent predator."

He will be transferred to the Special Victims Unit for processing, Ross said.

Police executed a search warrant at a home Johnson was currently staying at Wednesday night but did not find him. They did, however, recover a gun, police said.

Johnson turned himself in after being named as a wanted man.

No word yet if Johnson has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

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