“Where’s the outrage?”
That’s what Edward Watson wanted to know when he disrupted Mayor Lovely Warren during a morning news conference in 2015 at the scene of the Boys & Girls Club of Rochester mass shooting that left three people dead and four wounded.
Last week, a man was shot to death in broad daylight outside a community center, and between then and the mass shooting, six other people were shot on city streets in low-profile incidents that have become so routine they hardly make news anymore.
Where’s the outrage? Where are the demonstrations? Where are the politicians screaming from the steps of City Hall?
“If this was a white police officer gunning down three blacks and injuring four, Wilson High School would be on fire and every black leader, every community leader would be up here,” Watson yelled. “Blacks are murdering blacks every 32 hours since June!”
Watson, a 56-year-old black, lifelong resident of Rochester, was referring to statistics cited in this column on Sunday, which noted that shootings have escalated to the point that someone has been shot on average every 32 hours this summer.
Investigators would later say that 28 shots were fired into the crowd in a span of eight seconds. The violence came suddenly and endedquickly, but the devastation was overwhelming. Three young men were dead. Four others were wounded. Those in the crowd uninjured by gunfire were terrified.
Evidence showed that Blackshell had stolen the AK-47-style weapon used in the killings from a Lake Ave. home three weeks before the shootings.
Afterward, he hid the semi-automatic rifle under the porch of a vacant home on Clay Avenue. Landscapers later found the weapon. Police also believed, based on interviews, that Mathis and Everett were in the car used in the shooting — a black Suzuki.
Blackshell, Everett and Mathis were arrested and charged with murder. Nearly a dozen alleged associates were charged with assault, robbery or other serious crimes for events in the days leading up to the Genesee Street. shooting.
Duckles and his co-counsel, Michelle Crowley, successfully prosecuted Johnny Blackshell last summer. County Court Judge Douglas Randall sentenced him to life without parole for the three murders, and an additional 57 years for other crimes, including assaults and illegal weapons possession. He still has charges pending in federal court.
Duckles and Crowley also earned a conviction against Jalen Everett, but those verdicts were set aside after allegations of juror misconduct, and Everett was acquitted during a retrial that ended in January.
One of the jurors in that first Everett trial alleged that a fellow juror had exhibited racial bias during deliberation. Everett’s attorneys, Emily Fusco and Clark Zimmermann, asserted that this so-called “rogue juror” brought information into the jury room that was in some cases inaccurate and in other cases had been ruled inadmissible.
The District Attorney’s Office contended at a hearing that other jurors did not corroborate the claims of the “rogue juror.” The DA’s Office provided Judge Randall with jurors’ statements that they said proved the juror’s claims were wrong. However, Randall found that some of the statements supported the allegations, and he set aside the guilty verdict.