ALL RYAN KELLY wanted was a late-night snack at Wawa.
So, despite his mom's protests, he walked less than a mile to the convenience store on Aramingo Avenue from his Port Richmond home.
It was about 5 a.m., not long before the sun would rise on an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving Day.
As time passed, his mother, worried, called the 21-year-old's cellphone. He told her he was fine, that he was walking down the street toward their front door on Almond Street near Venango, according to police sources.
Not long after, there was a gunshot. Kelly's mother ran outside to see him lying on the pavement. Near him was a man who jumped into a white Mazda 6, a man who pointed a gun at her in a clear, silent threat, as he sped away.
Now, police are looking for that man, as well as his male accomplice, suspects allegedly responsible for a string of armed robberies in that same neighborhood.
At a news conference yesterday, Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman, released surveillance footage of those men, whom investigators are describing as persons of interest in Kelly's slaying.
The photos were captured by a surveillance camera hours before Kelly's death at a nearby TD Bank, where the men unsuccessfully tried to withdraw money from a debit card they had stolen in an earlier robbery, Stanford said.
Detectives believe the 21-year-old's slaying was also a botched robbery, but it's unclear if anything was taken from him.
After the gunfire, Kelly was taken by police to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about a half-hour later.
Kelly's father, William, declined to speak with the Daily News yesterday. He said he wasn't ready to talk about his son, whom he described as "a good kid."
Friends posted about Kelly on social media, writing that he worked at an Acme supermarket in Northern Liberties and loved to eat his pizza "with a side of hot sauce."
Stanford cautioned that the men connected to Kelly's murder are "armed and dangerous," and discouraged people from approaching them.
Police are confident the men have struck before, and believe they're linked to two or three robberies within a week in the same area. But that's not their only crime.
The Mazda 6 they used to flee the scene of Kelly's shooting was stolen, according to Stanford. A police source said they nabbed the car - which can be seen in the background of the TD Bank surveillance footage - on the same night they allegedly shot Kelly, and that the sedan was found abandoned nearby two days later.
Investigators have recovered the vehicle and are holding it as part of their probe into the murder, Stanford said.
There is a $20,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case. Tipsters should call 215-686-8477.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Kelly's friends to help pay for his funeral expenses. Visit http://ph.ly/MQOlb to donate.
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