Marching for justice

Families of murder victims Ryan Kelly and Gerry Grandzol rally in Port Richmond

Rallying for a voice: Led by the sound of bagpipes, members of the Kelly and Grandzol family marched in Port Richmond on Saturday, March 31, to demand justice from the DA’s office. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

While many families in Philadelphia may have spent Saturday evening preparing for Easter or Passover, two rallied for justice in Port Richmond.

Relatives of Ryan Kelly, 21, and Gerry Grandzol, 38, marched four blocks on Venango Street with dozens of friends and supporters, calling for justice from the DA’s Office.

Kelly was fatally shot on Thanksgiving morning in 2015 yards away from his home on the 3300 block of Almond Street in a botched robbery attempt.

Grandzol was shot and killed on Sept. 7, 2017, on his block, 1500 Melon Street, after refusing to give up the keys to his car, his 2 ½-year-old daughter still in the backseat.

The family of Robert Wilson III, 30, a police officer shot and killed during a robbery attempt at a GameStop in North Philadelphia on March 5, 2015, was also invited.

Since new District Attorney Larry Krasner has taken office, both families have publically raised concerns over the handling of their family members’ cases.

As reported by Star, the Kelly family was informed by their ADA a plea bargain with a 22 ½–44 ½ prison sentence was offered to David Ramos Jr., who is charged with first-degree murder and other related offenses.

That bargain was dismissed by the judge, but the DA’s office plans to move forward with another plea bargain.

Marvin Roberts, 16, along with his brother, Maurice Roberts, has been charged as an adult in the murder of Grandzol.

Grandzol’s family has expressed concern Roberts will be tried as an juvenile.

Led by glowsticks and the strains of “Amazing Grace” played by piper , the families marched from Saint George, the parish to which Kelly belonged, to Almond and Venango, where he spent the last moments of his life

Ken Paul, president of PROPAC, addressed the crowd and introduced members of the families.

“Tonight’s vigil is an unfortunate event as we have three men dead and we demand justice from our District Attorney’s Office,” he said.

Amy Campbell, sister of Kelly, spoke on behalf of her family.

Marching for Ryan: Amy Campbell, Ryan Kelly’s sister, speaks on behalf of the Kelly family during the march. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

“We are gathered here today in order for our voices to be heard, to stand together to advocate for the families of murder victims and ensure our rights are being addressed,” she said.

The family met with Cydney Pope, the ADA assigned to the case, and Anthony Voci, the interim supervisor of the homicide unit for the DA’s Office, on March 29, and were fully able to express their concerns, were fully counseled on why a plea bargain was offered and received an apology for a bargain being offered without the family’s knowledge, according to Campbell.

“It’s not what we had hoped for, but when it was presented to us, we believe our best intentions were taken into consideration,” she said. “Our focus has changed at this point, but we are still fighting for the families of murder victims to be part of the process and have our voices be heard for it’s our lives this affects every day.”

Christine Grandzol Sheaffer, sister of Grandzol, thanked the Kelly family and the crowd for their support and pleaded for the defendant to be tried as an adult.

Marching for Gerry: Christine Grandzol Sheaffer, sister of Gerry Grandzol, demanded the individual charged with murdering her brother be tried as an adult. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

“We hope you never have to go through something like this in your life, but to have support of other people out here, people who have gone through it, it’s amazing and we could never do this on our own,” she said “Our wish is [Marvin Roberts] is tried as an adult and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We’re going to pull together, work with other families out there, hope for the best and keep working for justice.”

Patty-Pat Kozlowski, Port Richmond native and candidate for the 177th Legislative District seat, organized the rally and concluded the event.

“These three men are no longer with us. They were all shot and killed on the streets of Philadelphia,” she said. “We sit here and we plead with our DA’s Office for justice. We’re pleading with the DA’s Office to not be soft on crime, to not offer plea deals to the criminals to fulfill a political promise and an agenda.”

Supporters hold posters calling for justice during the march in Port Richmond. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

The victims were not given that opportunity, she stressed.

“When Robert, Ryan, and Gerry were killed, they were not asked what political party they are. They were not asked, ‘Who did you vote for?’ They were not given a chance for a plea deal for their lives,” Kozlowski said. “To Gerry, Robert, and Ryan, please look over us and we will continue to fight for justice.”

Editor’s note: Because both cases are open and active, the District Attorney’s Office cannot comment.