A man who had just been released from a Philadelphia jail was shot to death Thursday morning as he waited for relatives to pick him up, authorities said.
Rodney Hargrove, 20, of Philadelphia, was killed about 47 minutes after being freed on bail after 1 a.m. near the front gates of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road, said Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney, who called the crime a “horrific incident.”
Hargrove, who had been held on theft and related charges since March 11, was driven to a bus stop by corrections officers after his release, which is customary, prisons spokesperson Shawn Hawes said. There, a dark-colored vehicle began pursuing him and he ran back to the prison grounds, where he was fatally shot by someone in the car.
His release at that hour underscored a practice documented in an Inquirer report in 2019 that described how scores of inmates are routinely released in the middle of the night after buses stop running and jail cashier’s offices are closed, leaving newly freed inmates without their identification, money, or cell phones. Prison reform advocates said the policy left those being released vulnerable to becoming victims of crime.
The Inquirer report led to a policy change that ensured that inmates received their personal property before being released, but late-night departures continue, said Hawes, the prisons spokesperson.
“Once we have an order of release from a judge we can’t hold anyone in custody after that,” she said. “So no matter what time it comes down, we have to abide by the legal order to release.”
In Hargrove’s case, the vehicle that was pursuing him entered the prison grounds through the raised arm of a security gate and sped away after the gunman shot Hargrove, Carney said.
Authorities are reviewing video footage to determine if the shooting was filmed, she said.
Carney said it is too early to say whether Hargrove’s killing was tied to the crimes for which he was charged. She also said she did not know who had arranged to post his bail.
Hargrove was arrested March 10 and charged with receiving stolen property, carrying a firearm without a license, fleeing police, and related crimes.
Hargrove, of the 1800 block of Pastorius Street in West Oak Lane, drove away after police attempted to stop a car he was driving in the 5800 block of Sprague Street the morning of March 10, according to court documents.
The District Attorney’s Office asked that Hargrove be held on $999,999 bail, while his public defender asked for $200,000. The records show that Arraignment Court Magistrate Marilyn Rigmaiden-DeLeon set his bail at $200,000.
Hargrove was also awaiting trial for a January 2020 arrest on charges of receiving stolen property, driving without a license, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, the records show.
Curran-Fromhold is one of four prisons operated by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, which currently houses 4,754 inmates, Hawes said.
The facility, the largest in the city prison system with 2,387 inmates, opened in 1995 and is named in honor of Warden Patrick N. Curran and Deputy Warden Robert F. Fromhold. Curran and Fromhold were killed at Holmesburg Prison on May 31, 1973. They are the only prison staff known to have been killed in the line of duty.
Staff writer Chris Palmer contributed to this article.