The thug who robbed and fatally shot a beloved Southwest Philadelphia grocery store owner on Monday hid his face behind a scarf while he committed the heinous crime, investigators said tonight.
With the exception of that detail, police have had little else to go on as they hunt for the man who gunned down Domingo Rodriguez inside his shop, the Perlata Grocery, said Homicide Sgt. Tim Cooney.
Rodriguez’s wife, who watched the horrifying scene unfold inside the store, was able to provide police only with a general description of the gunman.
She told detectives the shooter was a black man who had on a white T-shirt and brown cloth work gloves, Cooney said.
The store, which Rodriguez opened a few months ago on 66th Street near Guyer Avenue, had no working surveillance camers.
Cooney said the gunman pulled out a silver handgun when he entered the store shortly before 7 p.m. and told Rodriguez, 53, to open a door to a Plexiglas-enclosed area where the shop owner was standing.
Within an instant, he shot Rodriguez in the chest and stole about $2,000 in cash that the owner was carrying in his pocket.
The triggerman turned his attention to the owner’s wife. “He had her open the cash register, which she was unable to do,” Cooney said.
Rodriguez, who has two children, died shortly after at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
A handful of local residents gathered around the crime scene Monday night and lamented over the senseless loss.
“He was a sweet, sweet man. He gave my son two packs of Pokemon cards [on Monday],” said Rosie Mansaray.
She said violent crime has recently gripped the Elmwood neighborhood where she has lived for 10 years. “I’ve had enough,” Mansaray said. “I’m moving out of here, even if I can’t sell my house.”
She added that she sold costume jewelry to Rodriguez, which he in turn sold in his store. She said she frequently warned him against carrying large amounts of cash.
“He always said, ‘Don’t worry, Mommy. I’m not afraid of anyone around here.’ Now look what happened,” Mansaray said.
Rodriguez’s murder was one of four that occurred in the city between Monday and early yesterday.
Arceno Jones, 25, was riddled with four bullets while he sat in a car near 64th and Callowhill streets in West Philadelphia shortly before 11 a.m. Monday.
Shortly thereafter, police apprehended two men who fled the scene in a Dodge Charger. The men, Shirvin McGarrell, 22, and Shay Odom, 20, were charged with Jones’ murder, police said.
Two other cases remain unsolved.
Jose Rivera, 44, was shot multiple times on Norris Street near Lawrence in North Philadelphia at 7:47 p.m. Monday, police said. He died shortly after at Temple University Hospital. A homicide investigator said last night that no suspects or motives have been identified.
At 12:52 a.m. yesterday, police found James Stansbury, 23, bleeding from wounds to his leg and back on Colorado Street near Cumberland. He died at Temple University Hospital about an hour later. Police had no suspects or motives.
Tipsters can contact the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or -3335.