Christmas Village security guard accused of fatally shooting man, 29, in Love Park

Police say a Christmas Village security guard fatally shot a Lancaster County man when he tried to access a restricted part of the Love Park holiday display on Tuesday night.

According to investigators, Gregory Thomas, 43, was posted on 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard just before 9 p.m. when 29-year-old Ryan Groff tried to enter a restricted area of the unfinished Christmas Village.

Police say Thomas and Groff got into an altercation during which Thomas went to his Jeep, retrieved a handgun and used it to shoot Groff in the head, neck and abdomen.


Police say Thomas fled in the Jeep, which was outfitted with green rims and trim lights, according to police.

Groff was rushed to Jefferson University Hospital where he died shortly after his arrival, police said.

According to investigators, the operations supervisor for the security company that Thomas worked for contacted Thomas at his house and drove him to the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit. 

Thomas is expected to face murder and weapons charges. 

In a statement the company that operates Christmas Village, German American Marketing wrote: "We are evaluating the overnight security protocols and workmen with the PPD to ensure overnight presence at Christmas Village in the interim." 

"There will be lots of people downtown during the holidays. There is more safety in numbers. This happened at night with a lot less people in the park than normally," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

Starting this weekend the Center City District will be adding nearly 20 unarmed uniformed patrols for the holiday season.  Christmas Village opens on Thanksgiving Day and runs through Christmas Eve.



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