Not ready for big times crimes; stick to just selling crack

By Nobel Johns

There are certain crimes Black Americans are not known to perpetrate, and kidnapping is one. So, it was an anomaly when I heard that a Black child had gotten kidnapped in Philadelphia this week. Black criminals are not into kidnapping because it requires too much planning and too much thinking, and most Black criminals don’t plan and can’t think.

The two men accused of the kidnapping of a 7-year-old girl who escaped from them were arrested early Thursday and more arrests were likely, police said. This goes to show you that some Black criminals need to just stick to selling crack and leave big time crimes alone; it just requires too much thinking and they can not think.

James Burns, 29, and Edward Johnson, 23, were arrested around 5:30 a.m. in southwest Philadelphia, not far from where Erica Pratt was abducted Monday night as she played with her 5-year-old sister in front of their grandmother's rowhouse.

Erica escaped Tuesday after gnawing her way through the duct tape that bound In the hours leading up to the arrest, police said they received call after call from anonymous tipsters, saying the suspects were in the neighborhood trying to raise money to flee the city.

Acting on a tip, police spotted the men in a car just blocks from the Pratt home and captured them after a foot chase, police said. Johnson was captured last, lying prone on the roof of a parking garage.
``I told him, 'It's over. You're done,''' said Juan Rivera, the officer who scaled a fence to find him.

Burns and Johnson were treated for scrapes and a pulled muscle suffered during the foot chase and then taken to a jail, authorities said.

Police believe that others helped plan the kidnapping and there will likely be more arrests within a week, police Lt. Michael Chitwood said.

``The motive was definitely money,'' Chitwood said. He declined to give details except to note neighborhood rumors that the family had come into money recently.

Erica Pratt picked Johnson's picture out of a photo lineup and identified him as the man who grabbed her, police said. They said other witnesses have tied Burns to the crime.

Officers had said the men live near some members of Erica's family and were known to the family. They said the men's names were provided by two witnesses to the kidnapping.

Police said the ``brave little girl'' chewed through tape binding her hands, and broke out of the locked basement in an abandoned home where she had been held for almost 24 hours. The girl was back at home Wednesday.

Police have said the girl's grandmother and primary caregiver, Barbara Pratt, received at least six calls from a man who threatened to kill the girl unless he received a $150,000 ransom.

The Pratts are far from wealthy, family and neighbors said. Their small blue-and-white brick rowhouse sits on a block peppered with abandoned buildings. Erica's mother, Serena Gillis, had her as a teen-ager and gave her up to be raised by her grandmother.

``There's not $150,000 in this whole neighborhood,'' said Mannwell Glenn, a family friend who has been acting as their spokesman.

Just about everyone on the street had heard stories the family might have come into money. Some said the girl's uncle had died, leaving behind a lucrative life insurance policy. Others said a relative who owned a record label had just signed a contract with Death Row Records, a major rap label.

One of the girl's uncles, Joseph Pratt Jr., was shot dead in his car in March. But family members said there was no life insurance.

Another uncle, Derrick Pratt, is the chief executive of an independent rap record label, CP Entertainment, and had briefly been in talks with Death Row — but no deal and no financial windfall was in the works, Glenn said.

Police said Erica had only a can of water during her ordeal, and the officers who found her gave her part of a chicken sandwich.

She was bound with duct tape around her arms, legs and eyes and left in the dirty basement of a building 10 miles from home. She was able to chew through the tape, break through the basement door and go up to the first floor. Unable to escape, she smashed a window and called out for help to some children playing in front of the abandoned house.

The children pulled Erica out of the window, and one of them rode their bike to alert the police.

``She's an amazing little girl,'' Chief Inspector Robert Davis said.

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