'Just pray for strength for my family because that's what we need,' said the mother of 27-year-old Eric Harrison.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The mother of the security guard who was fatally stabbed at the Macy's store in Center City Philadelphia on Monday said her son had an incredible work ethic and a dry sense of humor.
Dawn Fobbs also told Action News on Tuesday her son, 27-year-old Eric Harrison, was her best friend.
"Just why? Why my baby?" said Fobbs, who is still in shock and disbelief.
Harrison was stabbed around 11 a.m. Monday.
"It couldn't happen to a more innocent soul," Fobbs said. "Just at work doing your job, you know, his second job at that."
After working overnight at the post office, Harrison made his way to Macy's where he'd been a security guard for two years.
It was a routine stop of a shoplifter who tried to steal hats. Harrison retrieved the merchandise and sent the man on his way. But the suspect returned about 13 minutes later with a knife, fatally stabbing Harrison and injuring a 23-year-old coworker.
"This started as a retail theft, upgraded to a robbery and then ultimately a homicide," Interim Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Stanford said during a news conference on Monday.
The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Tyrone Tunnell, tried to escape on the subway but was caught soon after at the Somerset station by SEPTA police.
According to court documents, Tunnell has been arrested more than a dozen times for retail theft, robbery and drug offenses across the region, including Philadelphia and Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties.
The DA's Office has charged him with Murder, Attempted Murder, Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Possession of an Instrument of Crime, Tampering with Evidence, and Retail Theft.
Harrison's mother also works in retail as a store manager. She understands there is risk, but says this is senseless.
"Over some merchandise, you came in and took my baby's life. He will never have children, he will never get married. All because of some hats," she said.
Her son, described as a Frankford High graduate and Philly kid through and through, leaves behind three younger sisters.
"Just pray for strength for my family because that's what we need," Fobbs said.
Fobbs went on to say she wants to take time to thank the other victim, Christian Mitchell, who was her son's coworker who tried to step in and save him. That guard was slashed in the face and stabbed in the arm in the ordeal.
On Tuesday, District Attorney Larry Krasner joined state and local representatives, SEPTA officials and Philadelphia police. He defended his retail theft policy instituted in 2018 that can leave some offenders with just a summary offense.
Krasner said he asked Philadelphia City Council to fund a newly formed task force to focus solely on retail theft.
The Center City Macy's store was reopened as Wednesday morning.