'It's Like Looking at Someone Who Got Hunted Down'

Family of Peter Spencer calling Black man's death a 'modern-day lynching'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2022 8:20 AM CST
Father-to-Be's Shooting Death Called a 'Modern-Day Lynching'
Peter Bernardo Spencer   (GoFundMe)

(Newser) – Family members of a Black man killed hours after he arrived at a rural Pennsylvania cabin he had been invited to by a white coworker are calling his death "a modern-day lynching." The body of 29-year-old father-to-be Peter Bernardo Spencer was found on the lawn of the cabin in Rockland, Pa., before 2:30am on Dec. 12, with a bullet wound in the mouth, two in the buttocks, and six in the abdomen or chest, according to the Venango County coroner, ABC News reports. Renowned pathologist Cyril Wecht, who examined the body on behalf of the family after it was prepared by a funeral home, says it's possible the Jamaican immigrant from Pittsburgh was actually shot several times in the back, per the Washington Post.

"There are nine shots fired beyond 24 inches of distance, or what we call long-distance shots. It's like looking at someone who got hunted down, which is absolutely horrifying," Wecht tells the outlet. The 25-year-old coworker was detained, questioned, then released along with three other white individuals. According to the family, the co-worker admitted to shooting Spencer but claimed self-defense. "I would love to see a district attorney who finds a crime scene with a house full of Black people, a white guy in the yard with nine bullet holes, and then detains them and lets them all go," the family's attorney Paul Jubas tells the Post. "That district attorney would be instantly out of office the next day."

Venango County District Attorney Shawn White called for patience Tuesday to allow for a thorough investigation. But the family says six weeks is plenty of time. They're now demanding greater transparency, claiming Wecht has been denied the coroner's autopsy photos, report NBC News. They also want federal agencies to get involved amid concerns it was a racially targeted attack. Rev. Dale Snyder of Pittsburgh's Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church tells the Post that the concept of Jim Crow-era sundown towns, where Black people weren't permitted after dark, is still entrenched in rural areas like Venango County, whose population is 1.1% Black. "He was slaughtered and killed in what I consider an act of modern-day lynching!" Spencer’s sister, Tehilah, writes on a GoFundMe page. (Read more shooting death stories.)

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