Ned Rainey Jr. has grown four inches and weighs 18 pounds more now than he did last Aug. 12 when he was shot in the right arm while on the footbridge over the Kensington Expressway.
Even so, the lanky 13-year-old looked a little out of place as he took the witness stand Thursday in the murder trial of Joseph P. Gant, the man accused of firing the gunshots that hit Rainey, his friends Austin Neal, then 16, and Dae’Mone Patterson, 13, and that killed Dae’Mone’s brother, Raymond Floyd Patterson III, 14.
Rainey’s testimony echoed that given earlier by his friends Austin and Dae’Mone: The boys were playing basketball in Roosevelt Park and went across the footbridge to investigate a commotion in the Langfield Homes housing complex. Rainey said he was behind the rest of the boys and only made it about halfway across the bridge when he saw a man in a Chicago Bulls jersey running toward him and heard gunshots. He turned and ran, too. Once he got back to the park, he said, he saw that his right arm was bleeding. He had been grazed by a bullet and received about a dozen stitches at Erie County Medical Center to close the wound.
Like the other boys, he also said he never saw the person who was shooting. He just ran.
Earlier in the day, however, another witness testified that he saw a man with a gun, and although he didn’t know the man’s name at the time, he identified him from photos as Gant.
Gant, 29, of Marigold Avenue, is charged with one count each of intentional murder and reckless murder in Ray Patterson’s death and three counts each of attempted murder and second-degree assault in the wounding of the other three boys. He also faces a weapon charge.
Omar Clark, a neighbor, told the Erie County Court jury that he was at home watching his grandson when he heard noise outside and went to his back door to see what was happening. He said he saw some girls fighting and a few minutes later a group of teens or young men also began hitting and punching each other.
Clark said the fight involving the males suddenly dispersed and he saw a man in an Adidas jacket holding a gun.
“He turned toward the bridge and he started firing,” Clark said. “Then he walked off, and then he ran.”
The trial is expected to continue into early next week.