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Parents of Jamaican killed in Pittsburgh demand justice

Published:Monday | January 17, 2022 | 12:09 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Peter Spencer, who was killed under controversial circumstances on December 12, 2021.
Peter Spencer, who was killed under controversial circumstances on December 12, 2021.

The parents of slain Jamaican Peter Spencer have questioned the circumstances under which their son was killed in December 2021 and have called for the authorities in Pennsylvania to bring his killer/s to justice.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Icilda Spencer-Henry and Conroy Spencer said that they have not received a satisfactory explanation about their son's killing.

“We have been told that there was an altercation and the people who shot him were in fear for their lives, but this makes no sense as he was with four other white men when he was shot and killed,” Spencer-Henry said.

The Spencers said that the four men who were with Peter were detained and taken into custody but were later released without being charged.

According to the police, Spencer was found shot in Rockland Township in the early morning hours of December 12 after police were called to a residence on Carls Road shortly before 2: 30 am.

Spencer 29, of Pittsburgh, was found to have several gunshot wounds. His body was found on the front lawn of the property. A motive has not been determined.

The police have not released the full police report nor have they published the suspected killer's name or filed charges.

The police say that they are still investigating and requested that the public be patient as they gather the ballistics and other evidence.

Peter Spencer, who has three brothers and a sister, was born in Waterhouse, Kingston 11, and attended Balmagie and St Peter Claver primary schools and later St Andrew Technical High.

In 2008 at age 16, Peter migrated to the United States with his father, settling in North Carolina.

Peter returned to Jamaica for a while but moved back to the US in 2013 to stay with his mother in Pennsylvania.

He was a contractor in the construction industry, said Mrs Spencer-Henry.

Both mother and father described Peter as very helpful and praised him for encouraging others to succeed.

“When he got a contract, he did not just pay wages to the others, but shared the proceeds among everyone,” his father said.

Mrs Spencer-Henry said that on Fridays, her son would prepare food for the homeless. He also talked about opening a Jamaican restaurant that would offer fine dining, his mother said.

“My son was not perfect, but he did not like anyone around him who did not work. He worked hard, and he was always encouraging others, motivating them to do better,” Mrs Spencer-Henry told The Gleaner.

“He even tried to get people to pool their funds to help pay down on homes,” said Mr Spencer.

The elder Spencer referred to his late son as his protector who always had his back.

The family has hired a private detective and retained the services of an attorney-at-law.

The silence surrounding his killing has sparked outcry among black community leaders in Pennsylvania, who are demanding the arrest of those responsible for his killing.

Jamaica's Global Diaspora Council member for the US Northeastern Region, Dr Karren Dunkley, met on the weekend with members of the attorney general's office in Philadelphia to discuss Spencer's killing and the perceived lack of action in getting justice for his family.

“We write you as the Jamaican Diaspora Northeast USA-Pennsylvania calling for urgent, concrete action and a thorough, impartial investigation without delay,” Dunkley said in a letter sent to the attorney general on Sunday.

She said it was a matter of grave concern that a family could lose a husband and breadwinner and suggested that the community did not believe that the perpetrators were being pursued with urgency.

“News reports have cited the police as saying multiple firearms were found at the scene and that a suspect, whose name was not disclosed, had been taken into custody. But there is no word as to whether charges have been brought against said suspect and/or others,” said Dunkley.

Tim Stevens, the CEO of the Allegheny County Democratic Black Caucus, said Spencer sustained six bullet wounds to his chest as well as a shot to the head.