A Filipino government lawyer was shot dead near the intersection of 38th and Spruce streets Sunday morning, close to the Wawa on Penn’s campus. No arrests have been made, and the investigation remains ongoing.
On June 19, John Albert Laylo and his mother, Leah Bustamante Laylo, were in a black Nissan Altima Uber on their way to the airport to fly to Chicago. At around 4:10 a.m., the Uber was targeted by an unknown gunman in a vehicle, allegedly a black Maxima, according to the Philadelphia Police report.
The gunman came up from behind the Uber and began shooting into the Altima. Then, the gunman pulled up along the driver’s side and fired more shots before leaving, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Laylo was hit in the back of his head, remaining in critical condition at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Laylo’s mother suffered minor shrapnel wounds, and the Uber driver’s condition and identity remain unknown. Laylo was pronounced dead at 10:33 a.m. the same day, according to his mother’s Facebook page. A GoFundMe page has been organized by Laylo’s family to cover any funeral and related expenses.
“But never did I imagine or dream that its almost the end of our vacation will be like this! We traveled together and we are supposed to go home together,” Laylo's mother posted on her Facebook. “I will bring him home soon in a box!”
Laylo, known to his friends as Jal, was a 35-year-old government lawyer who worked as a legal manager at Desarrollos Terrestres, a multinational telecommunications infrastructure company based in the Philippines. After passing the bar in 2014 from the De La Salle University College of Law, he went to the Central European University (CEU) in Vienna to get his Master of Laws in International Business Law.
“Jal was not only an outstanding student from all perspectives, but also a steadfast friend of CEU, both during his studies and after his graduation ... He was the cohesive force who molded the cohort into the unforgettable group of students they became,” Laylo’s former teacher, Tibor Tajti, wrote in a personal tribute. “He has left us unexpectedly and far too early.”
According to a tweet from Elmer Cato, consul general of the Republic of Philippines in New York, “[the shooting] could be a case of mistaken identity, according to police sources who say [the] gunman appear[ed] to have fired at the wrong vehicle.”
The consul general also met with Philadelphia’s mayor, Jim Kenney, and the Philadelphia Police Department on Tuesday, who he thanked in a tweet “for their assurance that they will do everything they can to bring to justice whoever is responsible for the death [of John Albert Laylo].”
On June 7, Penn's Division of Public Safety issued a statement regarding safety measures on campus during the summer.
“Penn Police and Allied Security have increased the frequency of targeted patrols in certain areas, in response to crime trends as they occur,” DPS wrote on their website. “We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and security of our community.”
Fellow members of the Filipino community in Philadelphia held a vigil on June 21 outside of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, to honor Laylo’s memory and provide support to his mother. On Sunday, Laylo’s sister, Althea, posted a tribute on Twitter for her brother.
“You are the love of my life and no one can take that away from you,” Althea wrote on Twitter. “I will chase after my dreams as you have always pushed me to. I’m not gonna let you down.”