Philadelphia Father Shot in Face After Refusing to Give Up Car to Robbers While Daughter in Backseat

Gerard Grandzol's 2-year-old daughter was in the car as he was shot nearby, police said

What to Know

  • Gerard Grandzol was shot and killed during a robbery as he returned home with his 2-year-old daughter.
  • Friends remembered him as an "amazing dude" and people in the legal community remembered him as a good person who helped connect people.
  • Police are trying to track down two suspects.

UPDATE: Police arrested a 16-year-old boy and his 21-year-old brother in connection to the murder and carjacking. New details HERE. 

A father protecting his daughter during a carjacking along a Spring Garden street was shot in the face and later died, Philadelphia police said Friday.

The two men in the killing remained at large late Friday.

Gerard Grandzol, 38, was shot as he got out of his car along the 1500 block of Melon Street just after 8 p.m. Thursday, police said.

The father of two had just returned from an outing at Fairmount Park's Lemon Hill with his 2-year-old daughter and dog when two men dressed in black held him up at gunpoint, Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. John Ryan said.

Grandzol handed over his wallet, but when the men demanded his car keys, he refused. His daughter was still inside the car.

The robbers then shot him twice in the face, Ryan said.

"They wanted the car and he wouldn’t give up the car and they shot him for it," Ryan said Friday afternoon at a brief news conference outside police headquarters.

The gunmen fled the scene on foot. The killing was captured on surveillance video, police sources said.

Gerard Granzol Composite with Scene
Family Photo / NBC10
Gerard Grandzol, 38, was shot in the face during a carjacking attempt along his block in Spring Garden on Sept. 7, 2017. A father of two and husband, his 2-year-old daughter was in the car when he was shot.

When first responders arrived, they found Granzol's daughter was crying in the backseat, sources said.

Brendan Fernald, Grandzol's friend and neighbor, rushed over to help and try to keep him alive.

"[I] jumped down and started putting pressure on his wounds. Then, scooping the blood out of his mouth so he could breathe," Fernald said.

Grandzol was rushed to a nearby trauma center where he died about 90 minutes later, police said.

Ryan described the deadly carjacking as an apparent "crime of opportunity" saying that the men seemed to be passing through the neighborhood when they singled out Grandzol.

A St. Joseph's University alum who was highly involved in the community, Grandzol volunteered for Project HOME, served on a neighborhood organization and belonged to various civic groups.

"We called him the mayor," Fernald said. "He engaged himself with everyone he met. That was remarkable. I'll miss him so much."

Grandzol served as a leader of Special Counsel, a legal staffing recruiting service.

"Gerry was loved by everyone who had the privilege to know him, not just as a colleague, but as a force of nature who loved life. We will always remember him as a leader, philanthropist, proud father, loving husband and good friend," Special Counsel president Laurie Chamberlin said.

Grandzol leaves behind a wife and two children. The family welcomed home a newborn baby girl only five weeks ago.

"He was an amazing dude," said Scott Rudich, the co-founder of Lansdale, Pennsylvania-based Round Guys Brewing where Grandzol would occasionally tend bar.

"My heart is hurting for them, for their family."

No arrests were made as of Friday afternoon. Ryan said homicide detectives are working hard on the case.

They're asking for anyone who may have seen the killing to call the Philadelphia Police Tipline at 215-686-TIPS.

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