Two carjackers who fled after ramming a stolen SUV into a family selling fruit for their church, killing three young siblings, were still on the run Saturday as the reward for their capture topped $100,000.
The children’s 34-year-old mother remained in critical condition at Temple University Hospital, spokeswoman Giselle Zayon told The Associated Press. The slain kids were 7- and 10-year-old boys and a 15-year-old girl.
The two suspects fled on foot after crashing the stolen car Friday morning at a North Philadelphia intersection. They had first carjacked a real estate agent at gunpoint and later forced her into the back seat of her SUV, authorities said.
The 45-year-old agent was also hospitalized, as was a 65-year-old woman helping the family with the fruit stand. Their conditions weren’t immediately available Saturday, and officials hadn’t released any of the victims’ names.
“All they said was my grandma got hit, and there were bodies everywhere,” Sakina Brown, granddaughter of the 65-year-old victim, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “My heart was about to jump out of my chest.”
She said her grandmother had seen the vehicle coming and tried unsuccessfully to get out of the away. She suffered a broken ankle and bruised sternum when she was struck. The group held the fundraiser every week to raise money for a church effort to turn the corner lot into a playground, Brown said.
Eyewitnesses who rushed to help the injured described a gruesome scene. One woman rushed to the boys, finding one with only a light pulse and the other with none.
The 10-year-old died at the scene. The other two were pronounced dead at hospitals.
“Three innocent children had their lives taken,” Philadelphia Homicide Capt. James Clark said of the siblings.
The reward for the suspects’ arrest has reached $110,000, thanks to contribution from the city and the Fraternal Order of Police. Police also asked nearby businesses for surveillance videos.
“There are no words to describe how I feel right now,” said police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, “but we do need to find these two guys.”
Police believe the suspects may have blown a tire as they turned a corner at high speed. The car ended up in a wooded area, its front end smashed against a stand of trees, about a mile from the carjacking scene.
Employees at Education Works, an educational nonprofit across the street from the wreck, ran to try to help the victims.
“I’m certified in first aid and CPR – my first instinct was to go to them,” said camp director Karen Payne, the woman who checked the boys’ pulses. “But I couldn’t help.”
Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison described the mayor as heartbroken.
“The prayers of the city go out to this family,” he said.