A 54-year-old Philadelphia man allegedly stole a car outside of a pizzeria with three small children inside. Shocked bystanders caught the alleged thief and potential kidnapper, and that’s when the crowd delivered “street justice.”
When a mom ran inside a Philadelphia pizzeria, she was terrified to find Eric Hood, 54, driving her vehicle away with her three children inside. In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, authorities said that the woman parked her car at the pizza restaurant in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood in North Philly around 9:15 p.m.
She left her children in the backseat of her gray Hyundai with the engine running as she went inside to talk to the father of two of the kids. That’s when police say Hood got into the car and sped off — but he quickly became stuck in traffic just half a block away. “Suddenly, a 54-year-old man, later identified by police as Eric Hood, jumped into her car and sped off with the children, who are between the ages of 7 months and 5 years old, strapped inside, according to investigators,” NBC Philadelphia reported.
Police told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Hood stole the Hyundai, prompting the couple to take off running behind it. Crowded roads allowed mom and dad to chase down the car and yank Hood from the driver’s seat. Officers said a “large crowd” stopped the man and then beat him after he physically assaulted the father. “We’re being told that other males in the area helped the boyfriend with this physical altercation and a physical struggle ensued,” Chief Inspector Scott Small told NBC Philadelphia.
“Hood managed to break free from the father and fled across 29th Street. It was at this time that a crowd of individuals stopped Mr. Hood and forced him to the ground,” Philadelphia Police Homicide Captain Jason Smith said. “The crowd kicked and punched Mr. Hood until the arrival of responding police. At some point Mr. Hood became unresponsive.”
Emergency responders were called to the scene where Hood had been beaten. “They left Hood unconscious and suffering from injuries that later proved to be fatal. Paramedics rushed him to Temple University Hospital, but it was too late to save his life,” KKTV reported. “The mom and dad stayed at the scene until detectives took them in for questioning.”
It was later found that Eric Hood had many run-ins with law enforcement. “Hood had a lengthy arrest record with 24 arrests. The mother of the kids left in the vehicle could also face charges for leaving them in a running car,” ABC News reported. “Police say the parents have cooperated and were questioned by detectives then released.”
Many of the local residents seemed to agree with the “street justice” that was delivered, according to the statements below:
- “What happened was tragic but it’s understandable,” Philly resident Kabreeze Sheed said. “The way the streets are today you can understand why someone would want to chase down someone who was trying to hurt their kids. A child could get kidnapped, taken away, never seen again, held for ransom, you never know.”
- Another resident, Jason Whitfield, also weighed in. “The way this world is today you don’t leave something to chance for somebody to do,” he said. “It’s a crime, a crime happens. So, you have to pay for the crime you did.”
- One female resident claimed, “Out here, in this neighborhood, there’s a lot of creeps, and they will jump in your car and zoom off.”
Luckily, the small children came out unscathed, but obviously, this could have ended terribly for them. Let this be a lesson to other parents: Don’t leave your children in a running vehicle — not even for a minute. You never know how quickly danger can approach. We shudder to think what could have happened to these kids if no one had caught up with this man.