A Catholic priest was the latest victim of carjacking in Philadelphia.
According to local news outlets, four suspects approached the 64-year-old priest as he was unloading a wheelchair from his trunk on the 2100 block of Somerset street in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. The priest, a member of the Society of Jesus, was with a passenger when he was attacked. The suspects reportedly threw the passenger out, then took off with the car.
According to CBS Philadelphia, the four suspects approached the priest at around 8:45 Sunday evening. One of the suspects drew a gun, then pulled the passenger out of the vehicle. The three other suspects then got in the vehicle, a blue 2013 Hyundai Sonata that belonged to the local Jesuit community, and sped away. Fortunately, neither the priest nor his passenger were injured in the altercation, authorities said.
The suspects were said to be in their early 20s and were wearing dark clothing, authorities added to KYW News Radio. Sources told the radio station that the car was found in nearby Camden, New Jersey, Monday night, with two guns inside. Authorities found four people in the car; they were taken in by authorities for questioning, but it is not known whether they are the same individuals who stole the car.
The USA East Province of the Society of Jesus confirmed to Fox 29 that one of their priests serving in Philadelphia was the victim of the carjacking, but they withheld any further details to protect his safety. The order has at least 15 priests on mission in Philadelphia, centered at Arrupe Hall on the campus of the Jesuit-run Saint Joseph’s University.
The carjacking was just one incident in a record-breaking epidemic of carjackings terrorizing the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has recorded more than 1,000 carjackings in 2022, smashing the previous record set in 2021, with three months left in the year. “Philadelphia goes over 1,000 carjackings for first time ever,” Fox 29 anchor Steve Keely reported on Twitter. “1,005 total carjackings at end of day September 27th. Already far surpassing previous @phillypolice stat record year, 847 in 2021, that doubled the 410 in 2020, & now more 4 times the 225 in 2019.”
Among the most recent incidents: on October 10, a man was carjacked at around 7 a.m. in the Bustleton neighborhood; On October 9, two carjackers stole a vehicle with a young child still inside at a gas station in the Roxborough neighborhood; on October 1, four armed men stole a car at a gas station in Germantown, and; a suspect is facing federal charges after home surveillance video captured him carjacking a mother and daughter in Northeast Philadelphia.
Wawa, which has locations in multiple states along the East Coast, announced last week that the company would close two locations in Center City, the main business district in Philadelphia and home to City Hall. Both stores had been contracting private security services due to an increase in thefts. The closures follow an incident in which nearly 100 young people ransacked a Wawa location in northeastern Philadelphia last month. Viral video shows the teenagers pushing over shelves, throwing items across the store, and shoplifting snacks.
Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.