Gerard Grandzol was trying to protect his young daughter from an attempted carjacking when he was brutally murdered in front of the toddler, police in Philadelphia said.
The 38-year-old was confronted by two would-be hijackers after parking his car on Thursday night, Q13 Fox reported. After Grandzol gave the man his wallet, they demanded the keys to his car as well. But Grandzol resisted, as his 2-year-old daughter was sitting in the backseat of the SUV and he feared that she could be hurt or kidnapped.
That was when the men opened fire, shooting the father twice in the face before fleeing on foot, the New York Daily News reported. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died.
Friends and family remembered Gerard Grandzol as a loving father and active member of his neighborhood, participating in a civic association and working as an executive at a recruitment service, the New York Daily News noted.
Many people shared their memories and left condolences on a Facebook page titled “Remembering Gerard Grandzol.”
“Gerry Grandzol died protecting his daughter,” one person wrote. “As senseless and infuriating as this crime was, he was equally g***amn brave and one-of-a-kind… I’ve met a lot of people in my lifetime, and most of the time one person will inevitably remind me of someone else I know in certain ways… but I’ve never met anyone like Gerry. Never. I’m sure I never will.”
Others called Gerard the “mayor” of their neighborhood, someone always involved in local events and active with his two young children.
Gerard’s wife, Kristen Grandzol, told CBS Philadelphia that the senseless murder has torn the family apart.
“He was just the best father to our two girls that you could even imagine,” she said. “He was welcoming to everyone in the neighborhood. Everybody loved him and he was just the best. Those two gunshots just destroyed my life and my two daughters don’t have a father now. I have a 6-week-old daughter and a 2-and-a-half-year-old who saw the whole thing and I don’t know if she’ll ever be right.”
The family released a statement after the shooting confirming that Gerard had died from his gunshot wounds and thanking the Philadelphia police for their quick work. They also called on anyone with information about the murder to come forward and offer help to police.
The murder of Gerard Grandzol has also sent shockwaves across Philadelphia, with many calling on police to prioritize solving the random and senseless act of violence. The especially tragic nature of the crime — including the fact that the murder was witnessed by Gerard’s 2-year-old daughter — has also made it a national story, with many major news outlets picking it up.
Police said the would-be hijackers ran from the scene after the shooting, but have not named anyone as suspects. Investigators said the suspects were identified as black males in their late teens or early 20s, but there have not yet been any arrests in the case. Police said they are now looking through surveillance footage from the area.
Philadelphia police have asked anyone with information in the murder of Gerard Grandzol to call detectives at 1-215-868-TIPS.
[Featured Image by Remembering Gerard Grandzol/Facebook]