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Jamaican immigrant Peter Spencer was fatally shot nine times at a camping trip in western Pennsylvania last December. Yet authorities will not bring any charges against the shooter and the other three camp guests, all of whom are White.
According to their witness statements, Spencer was shooting his AK-47 assault rifle into the December sky and growing angry and erratic. Spencer — who, like some of the witnesses, had been drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, and taking psychedelic mushrooms — began telling the others “he was a God,” investigators said, and demanded their car keys and phones as they expressed concerns for their safety.
Though the shooter told investigators he had consumed mushrooms, there was no evidence of the drug in his toxicology report. Spencer’s test revealed psilocin, a hallucinogen that can cause panic attacks and psychosis.
The family of Peter Spencer has disputed the witness version of events from the onset, along with his fiancee, who stated Spencer didn’t bring any weapons with him that night because she was with him prior to his arrival at the campsite.
According to investigators, Spencer allegedly pointed the rifle at his co-worker who had invited him on the weekend getaway, that man drew a handgun and killed him. The shooter told investigators he believed Spencer was intent on killing him and the three other guests who were hiding. On Tuesday afternoon, Venango County district attorney Shawn White said that the shooter, who was not identified, was justified in shooting Spencer in self-defense.
“He did not have to wait for a gunshot to fire at him,” Shawn White said of the shooter at an afternoon news conference Tuesday in Venango County. “He did not have to wait for a verbal threat.”
While the “Stand Your Ground” details of the story are foggy at best, that’s their story and they’re sticking to it. “We believe in this case that there is enough evidence presented for self-defense that we are not going to be able to overcome our burden and show this was not self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, and for that reason, there will be no charges filed against the suspect in this case,” District Attorney Shawn White told reporters Tuesday.
Paul Jubas, an attorney representing Peter Spencer’s family, said the family disagreed with the decision but weren’t surprised.
“This is the type of behavior we have seen from the PA State Police and Venango County District Attorney from the outset,” Jubas wrote in a statement.
Black men have long been labeled as crazed, insatiably bloodthirsty, and even demonically possessed to validate why they had to be murdered. Yet according to officials, that’s exactly what happened on Dec. 11 to Peter Spencer.
White said Spencer was using hallucinogenic mushrooms and started “acting crazy” as he fired multiple rounds from an AK-47 he had brought with him. White said Spencer was “not ambushed” and that he began firing the gun and ordered other campers to stay at gunpoint. Spencer’s co-worker then shot him amid an alleged heated confrontation.
Police said they found multiple firearms, “ballistic evidence” and controlled substances at the cabin.
Peter Spencer was a Father-To-Be with his fiancee.
The case was brought to the Heritage Affairs Team, which investigates hate crimes, but Corp. Aaron Allen, the liaison for the office, said he also will not be bringing charges. “We also have been making sure that there isn’t any hate and/or bias detected throughout this investigation, and I can tell you right now that there’s not been any sort of hate and/or bias detected,” Allen said.
While state charges will not be filed, it is possible that there could be federal hate crime charges brought. Cindy Chung, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, will make that decision.
Peter Spencer’s family said it will host a press conference next week with independent forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht to discuss their next steps. On Twitter Tuesday, Spencer’s father said: “We will squeeze the venom of corruption of whom is involved in the killing and covering up …”