BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two very different pictures were painted Tuesday in Erie County Court about what happened on Aug. 12, 2014, when a city shooting left one teen dead and three others injured.
On one hand, Joseph Gant was depicted as a gunman who fired into a crowd and killed a teenager. On the other, Gant was trying to save his own life.
Opening statements took place Tuesday in Gant’s murder trial. Gant is accused of gunning down 14-year-old Raymond Floyd Patterson III, and wounding three others late last summer.
No one disputes the Gant, 29, was there that day behind the Kenfield-Langfield housing complex to watch on as two girls fought it out or that he was filming the fight on his cell phone.
What remains to be seen, and what the jury will eventually decide, is whether Gant shot to kill – or whether he shot to protect.
“Four teenaged boys were running for their lives. Three made it. One did not,” said Erie County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gable. “Ten shots from a semi automatic pistol. Not a single shot in the air, not a shot at the ground. Ten shots in the direction of people, including kids, who were running away from him.”
Gant’s attorney, Anthony Pendergrass, said his client was acting in self defense, and that the teens were the attackers.
“The only thing he could do, for the preservation of his life, for the preservation of his life, the primordial thing, was to shot to get the attackers off him,” Pendergrass said.
After the shooting, Gant allegedly fled the scene and then worked to change his appearance in the days that followed. If convicted, Gant faces life in prison.