PHILADELPHIA - A father died protecting his young daughter during a robbery in the Philadelphia's Spring Garden neighborhood, authorities said.
Gerard Grandzol, 38, was fatally shot just after 8 p.m. Thursday in the 1500 block of Melon Street, where he lived.
Police said the suspects approached him, took his wallet and tried to steal his SUV with his 2-year-old daughter inside, but he wouldn't let them. As a result, the suspects killed him.
"They wanted the car and he wouldn't give up the car. And they shot him for it," said Capt. John Ryan of the Philadelphia Police Department.
Neighbors quickly rushed to Grandzol's side.
"By the time we ran up to him, people were bandaging him, holding him," one resident told WPVI. "And right in the head, right in the face, there was a pool of blood."
Grandzol had just parked the family SUV when two men approached. One was armed with a gun.
The victim was hit at least once in the head at point-blank range.
He was rushed by police to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he later died.
Investigators say the suspects are in their late teens or early 20S and the motive was to rob Grandzol. They also say they believe the attack was random.
Residents were left in shock.
"He loved Philadelphia. He loved Spring Garden," another neighbor said.
That neighbor, who knew Grandzol, did not want to be identified out of fear of retaliation. He said he was a member of the Spring Garden Civic Association with Grandzol.
"He was a very strong and active member of this community. A husband and a father - was murdered three blocks from my home," he said. "It was very similar to muggings that have been going on in this neighborhood for at least 12 to 18 months."
The neighbor said what happened Thursday night was the result of a buildup of violence over many months: "There was a number of serious muggings that started taking place. Primarily they were teenagers attacking men and women."
On Friday a Facebook page titled "Remembering Gerard Grandzol" was formed. On it, many pictures have been posted to celebrate his life.
Also, a post, which reads in part: "My brother, Gerard Grandzol, was one of a kind. Charming, witty, always smiling and devising ways to have fun."
Neighbors said he loved his family, especially his two daughters, more than anything.