Pennsy, New Jersey police bust gun ring that sold rifle used to kill 2-year-old girl in October

State and federal agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey busted a gun and drug ring this month that sold the gun used to kill a toddler in her mother’s arms in October, according to NBC Philadelphia.

Police said the ring sold 16 guns since last March, including six military style rifles, and 12 ounces of methamphetamine. In December, investigators said, the ring sold the semi-automatic rifle that killed 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera on October 20.

Rivera’s mother, who was holding her daughter at the time, and a contractor working inside the house were seriously wounded. Police said the gunmen who opened fire on the house were targeting the little girl’s father, who wasn’t home.

How do you protect your children from predators? Join Nancy Grace and a team of world-class experts for the online course ‘Justice Nation: Crime Stops Here’.

Rivera was shot in the head while her mother held her in her arms in their home along the 3300 block of North Water Street in Philadelphia, as CrimeOnline previously reported. Rivera’s mother and a contractor working inside the house were seriously wounded. The gunmen were targeting Rivera’s father when they shot at the home, police said.

Philly police arrested Freddie Perez and Tavon Thomas in October, charging them with the little girl’s murder.

Thirty-two-year-old Robert Crosley III, aka “Zombie,” and Matthew Zoba, 38, managed the gun ring, police said, using “straw purchasers” to buy weapons at gun shows and dealerships, then selling them and drugs via text message.

Zoba’s girlfriend, Victoria Zipf, Michael Snyder, 44, and Yuri Lyubinskiy, 39, assisted, with Zipf and Snyder allegedly acting as straw purchasers, police said.

Crosley was arrested on January 22 when he arrived to sell guns and drugs to agents, allegedly in possession of several weapons. Zoba and Zipf were arrested the following day, and arrest warrants have been issued for Snyder and Lyubinskiy.

“By working together and sharing intelligence, we took 36 guns off the streets and made our communities safer,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “But this is just the start. Thanks to our new partnership, we will more effectively shut down crime gun pipelines and get firearms out of the hands of criminals who want to do harm.”

For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode:

Join Nancy Grace for her new online video series designed to help you protect what you love most – your children.