Guards with AR-15s patrol North Philadelphia gas station

A fired Philadelphia police officer is running the private security detail as management is fed up with rampant crime
North Philly gas station has armed guards
Photo credit Nina Baratti/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Guards armed with semi-automatic rifles have been acting as security patrol at a North Philadelphia gas station. The operation is the latest sign of frustration among business owners fed up with violent crime.

Customers at Karco Gas, at the corner of North Broad and West Clearfield streets, could be seen on Monday dodging the rain at the pump and running into the store, but they had an extra set of eyes on them from a pair of armed guards.

“Lately we are completely tired from this all nuisance. Stealing, robbery, ATM missing,” Manager Neil Patel told NBC10. “Middle of the night, nobody feels safe. And we are completely losing a lot of customers.”

Patel hired a private security firm, Pennsylvania State Agents, whose guards come with AR-15s in hand.

“You shouldn't have to worry about, ‘Am I going to come home after going to the gas station?’  People shouldn't have to live like that,” said Andre Boyer, a former Philadelphia police officer who heads the security detail.

“I think they feel a little more at ease. One woman, she told me, ‘I don't even have to turn my car off. I can go in, get a cup of coffee, and come back.’”

Police statistics for the past six months show that in a one block radius around the gas station there were five robberies, four aggravated assaults, and nine thefts.

Customer Kennedy Johnson told KYW Newsradio Tuesday she was happy to have the added layer of safety as she filled her tank.

“It makes you feel way better to come, knowing that you're not going to get carjacked,” Johnson.

Boyer said that he has had other gas station owners, grocery stores, and a block captain contact him, looking to add patrol and help more people feel safe.

Boyer is not a stranger to headlines and controversy.

The Philadelphia Police Department fired Boyer in 2013 after he allegedly mishandled thousands of dollars during an arrest. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported at the time he claimed he was fired for whistleblowing that his partner planted heroin on a suspect during on a car stop and filed false reports about the incident.

The Fraternal Order of Police later sued Boyer in 2016 for defamation after comments he made about police officers that he said were involved in criminal activity.

Artist Meek Mill sued Boyer and another officer in 2014 over an arrest two years beforehand that led him to miss an event in Atlanta, costing him $39,000, NBC10 reported.

When asked in follow up questions for comment about his backstory, Boyer did not respond.

Station manager Patel also couldn't be reached for direct comment.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nina Baratti/KYW Newsradio