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Philadelphia driver shoots teenager trying to steal a car; police are trying to solve car hijacking problem

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – A Philadelphia driver turned the tide on a potential car thief Thursday night as the city continues to face an increase in car theft incidents, police say.

(CORRECTION: Philadelphia police earlier told Action News that the suspect teen was deceased, but have since corrected that information to say the teen remains in the intensive care unit.)

Gunshots erupted around 7:30 p.m. along the 6500 block of Cherokee Street in West Mount Airy.

“Our 60-year-old carjack victim is very, very lucky,” Small said.

This victim, Oliver Neal, says he was getting out of his car when two young men approached him and asked for his keys.

Neal says one of them had a gun and pointed it six inches from his face, so Neal says he had no choice but to shoot his gun.

“He said ‘give me the keys.’ At that point I had my hand on my gun and I saw him tighten his grip and I knew I had to shoot,” Neal said. “I think he shot first, but I don’t know. All I know is we went back and forth. I started shooting and all of a sudden he jumped off across the street, collapsed to the ground…I just kept shooting.”

“The Lord was protecting me. Soon after, I was thanking Jesus for my life,” he continued.

And he has a message for all children who get caught up in these types of crimes: “Get a good education. Work hard like everyone else. There are opportunities there.

Police said the suspect remains hospitalized in critical condition.

In another twist, police say they found the suspicious teenager in a Jeep that was stolen in a separate car theft last weekend.

The crime comes as the Philadelphia Police Department sounds the alarm bells over the troubling trend.

“The problem of carjacking in some ways across the country is exploding,” Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Benjamin Naish said.

Even more troubling is the number of these crimes committed by young people, police said.

“I don’t want someone to start normalizing this and saying that’s exactly what’s going on here in Philadelphia,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
A frustrated outlaw on Thursday outlined some of the department’s strategies to help allay fears.

Outlaw said the department would use targeted patrols of uniformed and plainclothes officers in what she called “the hijacking hot spots.”

She said the department would also work with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office to help with investigations.

“We are really using all available resources to tackle this problem,” Outlaw said.

Already this year, there have been 91 car hijackings. Last year they were over 750.

“It seems like nowhere is a safe place in Philadelphia,” said a resident who heard the gunshots on Cherokee Street.

He asked not to be identified but wanted to express his outrage.

“Go to school, go to college, get a job and buy your own damn car, excuse my language. Enough is enough of this nonsense,” he said.
SEE ALSO: Driver shoots gunman suspected of car theft in Fairmount | EXCLUSIVE

Earlier this week in Fairmount, another victim fought back against an attempted auto theft.

An arrest was made, but the victim spoke to Action News and said he had no choice but to defend himself.

“I saw the gun and thought he was going to shoot me and take the car. I fought back to see another day.

Police also asked victims to take matters into their own hands and generally encouraged victims not to fight against the risk of losing their lives.

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