Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler announced during a press conference earlier today that 18 year old Romeo Williams is now in custody in connection with the attack that took place over the weekend in a 7-11 parking lot on Valley Drive. He said James Gifford, 70, was attacked from the front without evident provocation,
“Williams lunged at him, striking him in the face so violently that it knocked him to the ground rendering him unconscious.”
Fowler explained that after Williams attacked the elderly man he went inside the store, came back out, and the elderly man endured more,
“[Williams] returned back to where Mr. Gifford lay unconscious on the ground and proceeded to attack him for a second time, kicking him and striking him about the neck and head.”
Disbelief and outrage accompanied the news from Police Chief Frank Fowler. The weekend attack has been labeled as “deviant behavior that shocked her consciousness,” by Mayor Stephanie Miner.
“There’s really very little ways to predict that kind of outrageous behavior. The best thing to do is to get the perpetrator off the streets as quickly as possible. And I think in less than 48 hours you saw this police department do that. And that was accomplished because of the community, because of the physical evidence and everybody cooperating, and so what’s most important is the cooperation of the community in saying we will not allow this to happen.”
Gifford is known in the community as a gentle soul and the Seven Eleven is a part of his daily routine.
Williams is charged with felony assault. He might face other charges pending a grand jury; there also could be other suspects as police initially said four or five men attacked Gifford. They are residences of the community. Fowler said that Williams has a criminal history including at least 13 past arrests, several of them violent offenses.
Fowler also said what has helped this case is not only the surveillance tape taken at this convenience store but also the willingness of the residents to help the police.