Fourteen-year-old Dae’Mone Patterson took the stand Tuesday in the murder trial of Joseph P. Gant and told the courtroom about the day last summer when he, his brother Ray and some friends were playing basketball at Roosevelt Park and heard a commotion across a pedestrian walkway over the Kensington Expressway.
As they headed along the bridge, Dae’Mone said, a number of people came running the other way. They heard what sounded like gunshots, and Dae’Mone said his brother panicked. He tried to catch up as his brother ran ahead of him.
“I saw him when he got shot and fell to the floor,” the teen said. “I crouched down and grabbed him. I sat there for a few seconds, and he told me to go get Mom.”
Dae’Mone did what his older brother asked, running back through the park and screaming for help when someone saw him and made him stop.
“A neighbor said I needed to calm down and sit down because I was shot in the leg,” Dae’Mone said.
Dae’Mone was taken to Women & Children’s Hospital and his leg was put in a cast, which he said he wore for about a month and a half. At the request of prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable, he showed the courtroom the scar left by the bullet, a few inches above his left ankle.
He also said they never got all the way across the bridge to see what was going on near the Langfield Apartments.
Raymond Floyd Patterson III, 14, died from a gunshot that went through his torso. His brother, their friend Austin Neal, 16, and another boy, 13-year-old Ned Rainey Jr., were wounded in the barrage of bullets.
Gant, 29, of Marigold Avenue, is charged with one count of intentional murder and one count of reckless murder in Ray Patterson’s death and three counts of attempted murder and three counts of second-degree assault in the wounding of the other three boys. He also faces a weapon charge.
The attack was not what anyone expected when a crowd gathered behind the Langfield Apartments last Aug. 12 to watch two teenage girls who were fighting over an earlier altercation between some younger relatives.
According to the mother of one of the fighting girls, Gant was there, too, taking cellphone video of the fight. The mother, Carmelita Scott, testified that Gant and his girlfriend were with her and her daughter outside their apartment when the other young woman in the dispute confronted them and the fight started.
Although earlier reports about the events that day indicated Gant was somehow refereeing the fight, Scott testified that he was just one of a lot of people on the sidelines. Another scuffle broke out among some men and boys watching the ruckus and “Then, we just started hearing gunshots,” Scott said.
She testified that she saw Gant with a gun, firing toward people who were running across the bridge.
She also testified she didn’t hear or see anyone else shooting toward Gant.
In her opening statement in the jury trial before Erie County Court Judge Michael L. D’Amico, Gable contended that Gant “shot those four boys for no legitimate reason whatsoever.”
The defense team, led by attorney Samuel P. Davis, indicated in opening statements that Gant was set upon by a Langfield gang because he didn’t live in the neighborhood and that he fired into the crowd in self-defense.
The trial resumes Wednesday morning.