Earlier this week, viewers around Philly and the country were shocked by images of a man stomping through the back windshield of a vehicle and brandishing a gun at the driver when she got out to confront him — especially because it turned out her two kids were in the car at the time.
After the incident went viral, hundreds sent the Philadelphia Police Department tips on the assailant, which officials say helped them track down an individual on Tuesday night.
Now, a 26-year-old Frankford man in police custody faces 19 criminal counts for his alleged starring role in the City Hall road rage incident.
He’s facing a relatively steep bail for his charges, as officials once again attempt to demonstrate a tougher stance on individuals participating in illegal auto events, like mass rideouts and sideshows.
Here’s everything we know about what happened.
What happened and where?
A video posted to Instagram shows a motorcyclist on the roof of a car at South Penn Square, the name of the stretch of Broad Street that runs along the south side of City Hall.
As crowds of other motor bikes go by, the motorcyclist, wearing a black helmet with gold markings, jumps on the rear windshield of the red Ford Fusion, smashing it. When he climbs down, a handgun can be seen dropping from his waist to the street.
The woman driving the car gets out to confront the motorcyclist, who picks up the gun and points it at her. She walks toward him anyway, and he headbutts her with his helmet and shoves her.
The video pans away and returns to show her pushing the motorcyclist and his bike to the ground as other riders keep flowing by.
He picks up the bike, they exchange words, and he rides away. The video ends with the car driver carrying a child away from the damaged vehicle.
When did this occur? Is it normal?
The confrontation occurred around 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1, per the police and the Inquirer.
It’s not normal, by any means, but mass “rideouts” involving dozens or hundreds of motorcycles and other vehicles come through downtown Philadelphia at least once a month or more, on average, especially during good weather.
In March 2022, hundreds of people on dirt bikes and ATVs, which are illegal to drive on city streets, rode from Port Richmond to South Philadelphia, dodging through traffic, running red lights, and riding on sidewalks. Similar rides took place this past May, with some 500 vehicles riding through North Philadelphia into Montgomery County, and then again in July.
Drivers and pedestrians often say they’re uncomfortable or scared by the swarms of motorcycles and ATVs. But while there are occasionally road rage incidents in Philly, attacks by motorcycle or motorbike riders do not appear to be common.
Who captured the video? How’d it go viral?
Tourist George Coloney, who was visiting from Florida, was on a double-decker sightseeing bus stuck in traffic when he started taking a video of the mass of riders and happened to capture the confrontation, he told KYW.
“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, is someone about to get killed right now?’” recalled Coloney, who goes by the handle @vortex.hz on Instagram.
He posted an edited video of the incident, with parts slowed down, a Lil Uzi Vert soundtrack, and a text box reading “She didn’t deserve this…” He added the comment, “Na Philly is different… couldn’t have paid for a better sight seeing tour tho 😫”
As of Thursday, it had more than 60,000 likes and 7,200 comments.
A repost on Monday by the widely-viewed @nogunzone Instagram account, which focuses largely on Philadelphia crime, has so far garnered 17,000 likes.
Prolific social media video poster Michael McWhorter, a Virginia filmmaker who goes by the handle Tizzyent, posted the video to Instagram and Tiktok with a call to identify the motorcyclist. His Tiktok post quickly racked up 122,000 views.
The video was also widely shared on X (formerly Twitter), as was news of the motorcyclist’s subsequent arrest.
What do we know about the mom who stood up for her kids?
The driver is 23-year-old Prospect Park resident Nikki Bullock, who works at an Amazon fulfillment center and was delivering for Uber Eats when the incident occurred. She was with her girlfriend Alexis and their two children, a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.
Bullock said she was sideswiped by the motorcyclist near City Hall. She started arguing with him through the window and he pointed the gun into the car.
When she was distracted by another rider, he jumped onto the car, she said. As the children screamed in the back seat, he smashed out the windshield, spraying them with broken glass. She decided to get out of the car and fight back.
“His little revolver was nothing to me… That wasn’t going to scare me,” Bullock told 6ABC.
She was surrounded by other riders who watched without intervening. She stayed by the car rather than leaving because the kids were still inside, she said. “I have a guardian angel, thank god, watching over them,” she said, “because there’s not a single scratch on either one of them.”
Afterward, an employee at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel who had seen the incident invited the family to wait inside until Alexis’ sister arrived, Bullock told the Inquirer. Good Samaritans paid for repairs to the car and showered the couple with donations, she said. To avoid being recognized, the family plans to use the money to get a new car with a different license plate.
“We feel as if the car is marked and that’s it’s not safe to drive around with both of the kids in. We have already had people messaging us, hate messages here and there,” Bullock said.
Who is the motorcyclist under arrest?
Not much is known about him yet, other than that his name is Cody Heron, per police, and he’s 26 years old. His general address, as shared by law enforcement, pegs him as a resident of Philly’s Lower Northeast, between Bridesburg and Frankford.
He doesn’t have a prior criminal record in Philadelphia, according to news reports.
Heron apparently used a different name on social media, see below.
Weren’t people saying he was from New Jersey?
In the aftermath of the incident, an Instagram account called Outlaw Archive used a golden decal on Heron’s helmet to find social media accounts under the name John Carroll, a man supposedly from Sussex, New Jersey.
A video from popular TikTok user @thatdaneshguy, whose content centers around identifying people in viral videos, widely spread Outlaw Archive’s findings before acknowledging that “John Carroll” was an alias. The TikTok was even shared under PPD’s post on X (fka Twitter) asking for help identifying the motorist.
Heron was running the “John Carroll” accounts in an attempt to hide his identity, according to police. After that initial tip, police also heard from Heron’s employer among others, which helped them track him down.
What charges is he facing?
Heron is facing 19 charges across four consolidated cases, one for each defendant that was in the damaged vehicle.
He’s facing four charges of recklessly endangering another person, simple assault, and aggravated assault, in relation to everyone in the car.
For Heron’s altercation specifically with Bullock, he’s also amassed:
- A charge of possession of a weapon with intent
- A charge of terroristic threats
- A charge of criminal mischief
- A charge for an accident involving damage to a vehicle
- A charge of disorderly conduct
Why did the DA ask for such high bail?
Officials have stated that they hope Heron’s arrest and prosecution will be a clear sign to other bikers and drivers that road rage is unacceptable.
District Attorney Larry Krasner reportedly requested a bail amount of $5 million, but a judge reduced the figure to $250k.
Another road rage incident from this spring generated one set of somewhat similar charges, namely, possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal mischief: In that case, bail was set at $75k.
The number of people Heron endangered along with the additional charges ranging from terroristic threats to aggravated assault to vehicular damage certainly factors into the bail disparity. The fact that he was participating in a rideout, which is widely understood to be illegal, may also partly explain the bail requested by the DA.
Are these illegal auto events increasing?
The Philadelphia Police Department hasn’t claimed or provided statistics showing that events like rideouts and sideshows have increased, but enforcement has kicked up in recent years.
Earlier this year, Deputy Commissioner of Special Operations Joel Dales testified that these incidents are “a persistent problem” at a state House hearing. The department has stepped up enforcement efforts since the passing of a 2021 bill that allowed dirt bikers to face the same consequences as ATV riders.
At the April hearing, Dales noted that PPD has confiscated 1,132 off-road vehicles and destroyed 977 since 2020.
The standard penalty for such illegal riding is confiscation and a $2,000 fine. The owner of a registered vehicle can get it back after paying the fine, and unregistered riders can forfeit the vehicle to avoid the fine. Once forfeited, the police department usually destroys the vehicle.
Police also confiscate vehicles used in sideshows, as recently demonstrated after PPD recovered a Dodge Charger registered in New Jersey that was used in a South Philly sideshow in September.
If someone believes their vehicle has been wrongly confiscated, they can request a hearing with a Parking Hearing Examiner, the same process open to people who believe their car was wrongly impounded.
What have officials said?
Councilmember Mark Squilla, who represents the district where the incident occurred, said large groups of riders can develop a kind of “mob mentality where they believe they can do whatever they want.”
“This arrest will send a message that this will not be tolerated,” Squilla said.
“I’m grateful to all the members of the public who assisted law enforcement in identifying this suspect,” said state Rep. Ben Waxman, whose district includes parts of Center City. “Together, we can ensure that every community in our city is a safe place for everyone.”
Acting Police Commissioner John Stanford thanked the public for tips that helped police find Heron and the District Attorney’s Office for collaborating on the investigation.
“The criminal actions of this defendant left four victims traumatized,” Stanford said. “I sincerely hope that these charges will send a strong message to anyone who thinks that this type of lawlessness is in any way acceptable in our city.”