Darío Rodríguez, a 50-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic, was preparing to close his neighborhood market on Ridge Avenue near 25th Street in North Philadelphia late Sunday night when an unknown assailant shot him in the head.
His teenage daughter, who worked with him at Ureña Fresh Market, heard the gunshot outside and found her father lying on the sidewalk unresponsive. He later died at Temple University Hospital.
On Monday, Dominican shop owners pleaded with city and police officials for more protection and better treatment as community members.
“We are hardworking people, we pay our taxes and contribute with the economy and need to be treated and have the opportunity to achieve the American dream,” Enerolina Meléndez, spokesperson for the Dominican Grocers Association of Philadelphia, said in an interview Monday night.
Earlier in the day, several dozen members of the association held a news conference outside the store to deliver that message. Blood was still visible around the entrance.
The shooter was still at large late Monday, and a motive was unknown for why Rodríguez was attacked.
Chief Inspector Scott Small said there was no evidence of a robbery. Rodríguez was shot just seconds after he walked out to close his store to pull down his security grate.
His daughter did not hear an argument, just the single gunshot.
Detectives were checking surveillance cameras for any footage of the shooter, Small said.
Meléndez said Dominican-owned stores are an important resource in their neighborhoods, especially now during the pandemic. But they also face problems related to the coronavirus, especially from some customers who refuse to wear masks and from city enforcement actions because of those maskless patrons.
She also said the owners want a better relationship with the police department, including more patrols and store visits for safety checks.
Rodríguez and his daughter lived in an upstairs apartment next door to the market, Meléndez said. They moved to Philadelphia from Newark, N.J., about three years ago to run the store.
Family members now are deciding whether his funeral will be held in Philadelphia or Newark.
Staff writer Jesenia De Moya Correa contributed to this article.