City Teens Charged in Holdup of Lehigh Students
One of two 17-year-old suspects was wearing a Juvenile Probation GPS tracking device when he allegedly committed robbery. Both suspects to be charged as adults.
Bethlehem police have arrested two 17-year-old boys, one of whom was already wearing a Northampton County Juvenile Probation GPS tracking device, and charged them with the attempted stickup of two Lehigh University students early Monday.
Muhaafiz Ibn Salaam of 712 E. Sixth St. and Shaqur Watts of 522 Atlantic St. – both of whom already have extensive criminal histories – are each being charged as adults with three felony counts of robbery, according to court papers.
According to his arrest affidavit, Salaam was wearing a GPS tracker at the time of the robbery and the device placed him at the scene of the crime – the 600 block of E. Fifth Street – when it happened – about 2:20 a.m. Monday.
Watts allegedly enticed the two victims – Nicholas Aranaw and Elizabeth Scichonski – to meet him with a promise to sell them a flat-screen television and some marijuana for $50, police said.
Instead, when the Lehigh students arrived, three other males grabbed Aranaw from behind and demanded that he give them his money, court papers say.
Aranaw was able to fight off the attackers, but then one of the assailants pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and again demanded money, the victims told police. Somehow, Aranaw and Scichonski were able to flee and call 911 without being hurt or losing any property.
Criminal complaints filed by Det. Bradford E. Jones of the criminal investigation division also say:
- The Lehigh students encountered Watts in the Pantry 1 Food Mart at 25 E. Morton St. about 1:40 a.m. Surveillance video from the area shows Watts talking to the students outside the store near the front door.
- They said Watts offered to sell them a flat-screen television and marijuana in exchange for $50, with the stipulation they meet him on the 600 block of E. Fifth Street.
- The victims were given a cell phone number to call when they arrived. The phone is registered in the name of the father of a third suspect – a 16-year-old from Ridge Street who is a “known associate of Salaam’s.” The same phone was allegedly used to “facilitate a sexual assault” in which Salaam and the 16-year-old are suspects.
- Watts was identified by Aranaw and easily spotted in the surveillance video thanks to a tattoo of two red lips on his neck.
- Jones eventually interviewed Watts, who admitted meeting the students at the store and being on the 600 block of E. Fifth Street during the robbery attempt. Elsewhere in the records, Watts claimed he has been attending Nazareth High School.
- Salaam has broken his court-imposed curfew on numerous occasions, including the night of the robbery, according to his Juvenile Probation officer.
- Both Salaam and Watts have been arrested on numerous occasions by Bethlehem police for such crimes as aggravated assault, robbery, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
Watts was arraigned Monday by on-duty District Judge John Capobianco of Nazareth and committed to Northampton County Prison after failing to post $75,000 bail.
Salaam was arraigned Tuesday by District Judge Nancy Matos-Gonzalez and committed to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $150,000 bail.
The investigation by Bethlehem and Lehigh University Police detectives is ongoing. Anyone with information relative to this investigation is asked to contact the Bethlehem Police Communications Center at 610-865-7187, Det. Brad Jones at 610-865-7146 and/or Det. Jason Fulmer at 610-997-7682.