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McCray denies targeting Jackson

Darnell Jackson said he has learned through the grapevine that Riccardo M. McCray claims he did not put out a contract to kill him, but Jackson said he does not know if that is true.

"I don't know what to think," he said.

Law enforcement officials two weeks ago learned that McCray, recently convicted in the fatal shooting of four people Aug. 14 outside City Grill, got word out of the Erie County Holding Center to execute Jackson, who oversaw McCray's surrender to Buffalo homicide detectives Aug. 25 at WIVB-TV's studios in North Buffalo.

"A friend of McCray's relative came over to my house and called her on the phone. She told me that Riccardo swears on a stack of Bibles that he didn't or wouldn't do it because I'm the only one that really tried to help him," Jackson said Tuesday.

Authorities initially speculated that McCray gave the order to kill Jackson in a phone conversation from the Holding Center, but later they said it was also possible McCray could have passed the threat along while someone visited him at the jailhouse or by some other means.

McCray's calls were monitored after Holding Center officials were made aware of the contract, which was viewed as a credible threat, but a police official said nothing threatening was heard.

Jackson, 53, a reformed gang member from three decades ago, said he realizes he is not held in high esteem by many police and city officials because they question the sincerity of his community activism, which includes working with youth.

But what worries him is that his life may still be in danger, especially after receiving three anonymous telephone death threats. He also noted that police have not contacted him to discuss what is being done to protect him.

"It makes me wonder. I've called the mayor's office a few times and the police commissioner's secretary, but no one has returned my calls," Jackson said. "Even my pastor [the Rev. Jonathan R. Staples] contacted the mayor and police commissioner about his concerns for me and the church."

Members of First Shiloh Baptist Church, Jackson explained, are afraid that someone could barge into a Sunday service and target him.

"I drive the church van every Sunday and pick up members, children and adults, and bring them to church, but I was asked not to drive these last two weeks," he said. "As a matter of fact, I haven't even attended the church in the last two weeks."

Police said they stationed a patrol car outside the church last Sunday.

Meanwhile, a police official suggested that Jackson maintain a low profile to avoid attracting further attention.

Jackson questioned what a low profile means. "Should I board myself up in the house?" he asked.

McCray is scheduled to be sentenced June 2.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com

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