Filipino diplomats met with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and police officials on Tuesday to discuss the fatal weekend shooting of a lawyer visiting from the Philippines, and to underscore their hopes that the case is quickly resolved.
The diplomats, who included the Philippines’ consul general from New York and a top police official from the Embassy of the Philippines, requested the meeting to garner updates on the investigation into the death of John Albert “Jal” Laylo, 35, who was shot in the head early Saturday on the way to the airport with his mother.
Consul General Elmer Cato said the group left City Hall satisfied with the meeting: “We see that they’re working hard to solve this case.”
“We were able to convey the sentiments of Mrs. Laylo, and the position of the Philippines’ government, and underscore the great importance we place on the immediate resolution of this case,” he said in an interview.
Laylo was shot at 4:10 a.m. Saturday near 38th and Spruce Streets in University City. He and his mother, Leah, had just left a cousin’s apartment and were riding in an Uber to the airport for a flight to Chicago to visit family when a vehicle came up from behind and fired multiple shots into the car, police said.
The vehicle then pulled up along the driver’s side and fired more shots, striking Laylo in the head, before fleeing. He was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and died Sunday morning.
At least a dozen cartridge casings were recovered from the scene, said Chief Inspector Frank Vanore, who attended Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall.
Vanore said the deadly shooting may have been a case of mistaken identity, and that another black Nissan of the same make and model driving near the Uber may have been the intended target. Police are poring over video footage, he said, but there were multiple cars around the Uber when shots rang out, making the source of the shots difficult to determine.
Leah Laylo and her son arrived in the U.S. on June 2, spending time in Los Angeles before traveling to Philadelphia on June 9, Cato said. They visited Washington, D.C., and New York, then returned to Philadelphia again to see family ahead of their Saturday flight to Chicago. They planned to return to Manila after that.
Leah Laylo, who was struck by shrapnel and could not be reached, remained in Philadelphia Tuesday, struggling to process what had happened, Cato said. She will hopefully return home by next week with her son’s remains, he said.
“She’s still in anguish, she’s angry, and she wants justice,” Cato said.
Mayor Jim Kenney said the city is working to ensure Laylo’s remains are expedited back to the Philippines.
“You don’t expect to go on vacation and not go home,” Kenney said, adding that “people these days don’t respect life at all, and get access to high-power weaponry.”
Laylo’s sister, Althea, wrote on Twitter that her older brother, or “kuya,” would be an organ donor: “my brother may no longer be with us, but i shall find peace in the thought that at least somewhere in the world, a piece of him is alive and beating,” she wrote.
Laylo was one of nine people fatally shot over the holiday weekend as Philadelphia’s unrelenting gun violence crisis continues. More than 1,000 people have been shot this year, and as of Tuesday, 244 people have been killed, a number just slightly lower than last year’s record pace. So far this year, 48% of homicides have resulted in arrests, according to police.
“This event adds to a growing list of heart-wrenching instances of gun violence that happen every day in Philadelphia. We have already lost 244 lives in 2022, with an outsized proportion of them being Black and brown Philadelphians, and too many of them being youth,” said City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, who represents the section of West Philadelphia where the shooting occurred.
Laylo was a decorated attorney who’d worked for various political candidates in the Philippines and was remembered by friends and family on social media as smart, generous, and loving.
He graduated from De La Salle University’s College of Law in the Philippines in 2014, then worked multiple private and public sector legal jobs, according to his LinkedIn. In May, he worked as a volunteer on the city of Makati’s board of canvassers for Vice President Leni Robredo’s presidential campaign, Cato said. He currently worked as legal manager for a private company in the city of Taguig, according to LinkedIn.
He also worked for at least two Filipino senators, including two years with Sen. Leila de Lima, who, in a statement, called Laylo “a man of high energy and vibrant spirit.”
“No words can ease the pain that you are feeling right now,” de Lima wrote to the Laylo family, “but I pray that Jal’s beautiful memories will give you comfort in this difficult time.”