A suspected carjacker fatally shot a 60-year-old man who was visiting his mother in Northeast Philadelphia on Sunday, in a killing police believe could be part of a pattern of carjackings in the area.
The victim, George Briscella, was headed to his mother’s home on the 2100 block of Afton Street to use her printer just past 8 p.m. and was shot in the stomach in the driveway, according to Homicide Captain Jason Smith.
Surveillance footage shows the victim pulling into the driveway and, about a minute later, three other men approaching on foot, police said. Three gunshots are heard on the footage, and then the car Briscella was driving — a 2022 Toyota RAV-4 — is seen speeding away from the scene.
Smith said Briscella was shot once with an assault-style rifle. He was taken to the hospital and died shortly after. The stolen car hasn’t been found.
Investigators don’t have evidence showing Briscella was followed, and Smith described the suspected carjacking as a “crime of opportunity.” But he said it could be part of a troubling pattern of similar incidents in Northeast Philadelphia, where a number of Toyotas have been taken during carjackings. Smith said investigators were compiling geographic data on the carjackings Monday.
As gun violence in the city has surged over the past two years, carjackings in the city this year are also happening at a record pace, according to police statistics. There have been more than 140 reported so far, seven times the number reported around the same time in 2020.
Last week, a police officer fired a shot at a teenager who officials said was armed and fled from a vehicle he had carjacked, and officers chased a man through the city who was suspected of a carjacking in New Jersey. And last month, a delivery driver shot and critically wounded a man police said was attempting to carjack him.
Other cities have reported a similar rise in carjackings over the past several months, including Chicago and New York.
Smith said it’s unclear how organized the perpetrators are or if they had carried out other carjackings. He said he “absolutely” believes the victim in Sunday’s killing was targeted because of the make and model of the vehicle he was driving.
Smith said investigators may release portions of the surveillance footage in the coming days.
A man who answered the door at the home where Briscella was shot declined to comment Monday. A friend said that Briscella, a Marine Corps veteran, worked for many years for a delivery service. He and his wife had four sons.
Neighbors who clustered outside said he visited his mother almost daily. Imtiaz Chaudhroy, who has lived a few doors down for more than 20 years, said he heard the gunshots and ducked. He described Briscella as “a very good son.”
“People are shocked,” he said.
Joseph Cianciarulo, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, said he went to elementary school with Briscella and works with his sister-in-law.
”Him or his older brother always checked on their mother. It’s such a shame,” he said, pausing on his route. “He was such a nice guy.”