Philadelphia man fatally shot on prison grounds shortly after being released

The exterior of Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

The Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia’s Holmesburg neighborhood. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Updated: 4:30 p.m.

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Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney said Thursday that a young man was shot and killed on prison grounds less than an hour after he was released from the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in the Holmesburg section of the city.

Carney said 20-year-old Rodney Hargrove left the facility around 1 a.m. after posting bail on theft and firearm charges. A dark-colored vehicle then approached him as he waited for a ride at a SEPTA bus stop across the street, she said.

“Mr. Hargrove then ran back onto prison grounds after being pursued by the vehicle. The occupants of the vehicle caught up with Mr. Hargrove and then shot and killed him near the main entrance gate,” said Carney.

The driver then sped off.

Carney said the parking arm at the jail’s main gate was raised at the time of the incident, enabling the vehicle to chase Hargrove onto prison grounds. A correctional officer was assigned to man the front gate and the parking arm.

It’s unclear why the parking arm was raised.

“For whatever reason, the officer raised it,” said Carney. “We’re a 24-hour operation. We still have staff coming and going on the campus.”

Hargrove was incarcerated for roughly a week before he was fatally shot. It’s unclear who bailed him out, whether he was targeted, or how many people were inside the car that pursued him, Carney said.

His bail was set at $200,000 on March 11, according to court records.

“We’re looking at this in the totality and everything will be investigated,” she said.

In the meantime, two correctional officers, including the employee assigned to the main gate at CFCF, are receiving counseling, said Eric Hill, business agent for Local 159 of District Council 33, the union that represents city correctional officers.

The other employee was assigned to cover the main gate of the decommissioned Philadelphia House of Corrections, which sits directly across the street from Curran-Fromhold.

Hill, who declined to identify the officers, said neither employee witnessed the shooting, but did hear what they believed to be gunshots. They also saw the dark-colored vehicle speed off prison grounds, he said.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident,” said Hill. “It could have happened to anyone on the prison reservation at that type of morning, where there’s little to no security other than the correctional officer in the guardhouse at the CFCF and then the correctional officer stationed at the House of Corrections main gate.”

Asked about the raised parking arm, Hill said statements made by the two correctional officers didn’t “allude to any improprieties” or “violation of procedures.”

For Claire Shubick-Richards, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the raised parking arm is concerning, but she said she was more troubled to hear about yet another negative incident involving the bus station where Hargrove was waiting before he was killed.

It’s standard procedure for prison department staff to drop people off there after they are released. But Shubick-Richardson said the area is a “known dangerous spot.”

She said she has heard stories from incarcerated women who were offered drugs, as well as propositioned to engage in other criminal activity while waiting at the bus stop.

“I think really what this incident highlights is the vulnerability of anyone leaving that jail,” said Shubick-Richards.

Hill said at least four other incarcerated people were released with Hargrove and dropped at the same SEPTA stop.

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