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He ‘didn’t deserve to die this way,’ says family of the 22-year-old killed outside Pat’s Steaks

Police have charged a Reading man with murder in connection with the killing of David Padro Jr., a 22-year-old from Camden.

David Padro Jr., 22, was fatally shot early Thursday in South Philadelphia.
David Padro Jr., 22, was fatally shot early Thursday in South Philadelphia.Read moreCourtesy of David Padro Jr.'s family

David Padro Sr. expected to spend this weekend like he did the last one: surrounded by family and hanging out by his pool in South Jersey with his 22-year-old son.

Instead, he’s planning his son’s funeral.

David Padro Jr., 22, was fatally shot early Thursday morning in South Philadelphia outside Pat’s King of Steaks, the famed cheesesteak joint where he had stopped for a bite. His father said Padro, of Camden, was in Philadelphia with his girlfriend to go to a nightclub when they stopped to eat and an argument broke out among patrons.

Then, police say, Paul C. Burkert, a 36-year-old from Reading, pulled a gun. Padro was shot in the shoulder and abdomen and transferred to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 1 a.m. Police said Burkert fled the scene and then turned himself in to National Park Police at Independence Mall.

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Burkert faces murder and weapons charges. Court records show he pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge in Berks County in 2019 and was prohibited from possessing a firearm. No attorney for him was listed in court records Friday.

Padro Sr., 45, of Franklinville, said he’d never seen his son fight until he saw surveillance video of the altercation Thursday.

“I know people want to critique the video and say they were fighting, but fighting shouldn’t escalate into somebody getting killed that way,” he said. “I wish things would change with this gun violence. It’s completely out of hand.”

While initial reports indicated the argument that led to the shooting was over football and an Eagles-Giants rivalry, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said witnesses told investigators the fight was over a parking space.

Tommy Francano, Pat’s general manager, said a squabble over parking was just as senseless.

“There were a lot of rumors out there, everybody has a different story,” he said. “So it was over a parking spot. That’s crazy. It’s a horrible thing.”

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Padro is one of 314 people who have been killed in Philadelphia this year, a 35% increase over the same time last year and more people than were killed in all of 2016, according to police statistics. More than 1,200 people have been shot citywide this year.

The city has seen a stunningly high level of gun violence this month, with more than 225 people injured or killed by bullets. Seven people were shot Thursday night and early Friday morning, including a 20-year-old hospitalized in critical condition after being shot twice on the 900 block of Master Street in North Philadelphia. The other victims, who ranged in age from 17 to 33, were in stable condition, police said.

» READ MORE: Philly’s gun-violence crisis has surpassed a bleak milestone with 10,000 shot since 2015

Padro Sr. described his son as “a very humble kid” who was getting into day trading and tapping into an “entrepreneurial” spirit. He had three siblings and lived in Camden with his girlfriend.

Last Saturday, Padro did what he often did during the summer: went over to swim in his father’s pool. Before he left, his father remembered, his son made sure to say: “Dad, I love you.”

“He was a good person, you know?” Padro Sr. said. “A good kid that didn’t deserve to die this way. Nobody does.”