Thousands attend funeral for father murdered in Spring Garden

SPRING GARDEN (WPVI) -- More than 2,000 people attended a funeral Mass on Wednesday for Gerard Grandzol, the man who was shot and killed while protecting his 2-year-old daughter during an attempted carjacking last week in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia.

A long line started to form hours before the service began at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Friends and family held each other as some wept. Others still seemed overcome with shock at the tragic and abrupt end to such a vibrant life. But still, many chose to ultimately celebrate a life well lived.

"I don't like to look at anything in the negative. I like to look at such a tragedy as being seized for the future of the community, that they will remember and respect a dedicated family man and his involvement in the goodness of life," said Brian Scanlan.

Grandzol, known as "Gerry," was a family man who was overjoyed with the three loves of his life: his wife and two young daughters, one just three months old.

Pictured: People wait outside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul ahead of a funeral service for Gerard Grandzol on September 13, 2017.

He was a community activist, the neighborhood handyman and an avid hockey player.

"He was always a happy guy, showed up with a cup of coffee, wired up ready to play. He would sing pretty much through the entire session and drive us crazy, but we will miss hearing his voice," said Rob Solarski.

And though it often takes time to fully grasp the impact of a life lost, the image of hundreds filling the cathedral on Wednesday spoke volumes for the tremendous loss suffered by a community and a young family.

"He was not only like a colleague, he was a brother and he was just so fun, and made every day fun, and worked hard and was just a great human being all around, and we are all sad today," said Lisa Goldstein.

The murder happened last Thursday.

Grandzol, 38, had just parked his SUV at 15th and Melon streets when he was confronted by two suspects. Police say the suspects took his wallet and demanded his car keys, and one of them shot him twice in the head.

Grandzol's 2-year-old daughter was inside the back seat of the vehicle at the time. Grandzol was trying to protect the girl when he was shot.

Authorities believe 16-year-old Marvin Roberts pulled the trigger, and say his 21-year-old brother, Maurice Roberts, was the second suspect.

Both are in custody.

"It's terrible," said Philadelphia police Capt. Jack Ryan during a news conference earlier this week. "It's one of the most horrific things I've seen in 24 years on the police department. Very hard to watch."

Ryan said there was no explanation for the slaying of Grandzol other than "a touch of evil."

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Teen suspect charged in murder of Spring Garden man ID'd. Sarah Bloomquist reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on September 11, 2017.

Police say audio and video of the horrific encounter was caught on a nearby surveillance camera. After the father was shot twice you can hear the toddler crying.

The suspects ran off to SEPTA's Broad Street Line. They were quickly identified and warrants were signed by Saturday. The two were arrested soon after.

"On Saturday morning, while they were waiting to serve some of these warrants, an alert, sharp detective on the fugitive squad observed Marvin Roberts in the area of Broad and Venango," said Ryan.

Maurice Roberts was arrested in New Jersey and is awaiting extradition.

A gofundme page has been set up to accept contributions to benefit the victim's family.

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