Friday, June 12, 2015

Gregory of Jersey City

 There is a young man named Gregory who grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Not much information is available online about his childhood. 

At 14, he was a steady scorer on the Stars, a Rec League basketball team.  He also ran track at his school that year.

Then Gregory disappeared from view until June 2, 2014, when he was 19.

At 3:45 a.m. that morning, Gregory and another man, both armed with handguns, approached four men and demanded money and drugs.  One of the four took a gold chain from his neck and handed it over.  

The four men ran in different directions.  One headed for his car with Gregory and his accomplice in pursuit.  They fired three shots at the car, missing the driver, who managed to get away. 

A week later, Gregory did something much worse.

Two Murders

Around 11:45 p.m. on June 9, Gregory shot a 9-mm Smith and Wesson handgun at two men who were sitting in a car on a residential street in Jersey City.   

The shots woke a neighbor, who went outside and found one man with blood on his face.  He was sitting against the door of a car and gasping for breath.  Another man was lying on the street, moaning and writhing in pain.  

Ambulances took both men to the hospital.  One had been shot in the torso, the other in the head.  Seven hours later, both had died.

Police established quickly that Gregory had had a beef with one of the men, a 22-year-old new father who had attended Catholic schools and a technology academy. 

Here is what that man's sister said:

      "As far as I know there were words going back and forth (between them) and 
      it got escalated in social media. These kids want to kill each other for words.  He 
      and my brother had a personal problem.  It was a situation that could have been
      resolved by talking like grown men."

The other dead man was described as a nice, easygoing guy, 21 years old and in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Friends and relatives put up a makeshift shrine where the shooting occurred.

Later in 2014, an older Jersey City woman died.  She seems to have been Gregory's mother. Here is what a friend wrote about her on an online memorial book.

      "A Friend, an advisor, a second mother our angel. She would help anyone,her
       cooking, her friendship, her wisdom. She taught us so much, she always told 
       me she and God where good friends. I am comforted in knowing Mildred is 
       with  her God now. Our angel has now gone home no more suffering no more 
       pain just peace. God bless you, we will all miss you rest in peace."


Yesterday Gregory returned to court.  He admitted that he had committed all the crimes described above and accepted the plea deal  offered by the prosecution.

Here is his sentence:  He will serve 30 years, consecutively and with no chance of parole, for each of the two shooting deaths.  Then he will begin to serve a 15-year sentence for the other crimes with no chance of parole until he serves more than 12 years of that sentence. 

Gregory is now 20 years old.  He has 300 days of jail time to credit against his sentence.  He will be eligible for parole when he is 92.

In recent court appearances, Gregory has worn a beard and a muslim cap called a kufi.

Yesterday, he said, "I'd like to apologize . . . I'm deeply remorseful for my action, and I know nothing I say will change what I've done."

Later, as he was being led out of the courtroom, Gregory turned to family members of one of his victims.

"What the fuck are you looking at?" he said to them.

A man jumped up from a visitor's bench and lurched toward Gregory.

"What did you say?"  he asked.

His family and sheriff's officers pulled him back as Gregory was taken away to pay his debt to society.


What is sad about this is that it is not unusual.  In New Jersey, we read reports of criminals and victims with different details but the same sad results just about every month.

I don't believe Gregory was born this way.  But I don't understand how a sweet, innocent baby grows up to be a man like Gregory.

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