University Heights, Buffalo, NY

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Police Make Arrest in the Javon Jackson Murder

From the Buffalo News

Updated: 05/28/09 07:37 AM
Amherst man held in slaying of UB grad
By Lou Michel
Theresa Williams can hardly believe it.

On Wednesday, she learned Buffalo police charged a young man with killing her son only hours after he had graduated from the University at Buffalo a little more than two weeks ago.

The Bronx woman also found out that day that earlier this week one of her son’s roommates was fatally gunned down while visiting a woman in an Amherst apartment.

It’s a lot to absorb in one day, but Williams says she is certain justice will now come to pass for her son, Javon R. Jackson, with the arrest of Da- Mario Cordelius, 20, of Amherst.

Cordelius is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Jackson, 23, who was out celebrating his graduation from UB after earning a degree in electrical engineering.

“He [Cordelius] has taken something from me that I can never replace, but my son will have justice. I am suffering,” Williams told The Buffalo News in a telephone interview from her home.

Any satisfaction that police scored an arrest was tempered by news that 21-year-old Jesse Garnett had been killed Monday night in an unrelated case. The killer remains at large.

“The pain and irony of these two young men who lived under the same roof is unbelievable,” Williams said. “I had the opportunity to meet Jesse. Javon introduced me to him. This makes me feel Javon now has been reunited with a friend in his new life in heaven.”

The break in the Jackson case was announced late Wednesday afternoon by city officials who gathered at the corner of Main Street and Lisbon Avenue, a short distance from the May 10 crime scene.

Mayor Byron W. Brown and Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson, accompanied by homicide detectives and city and UB police officers, said the arrest was the result of an intensive investigation that still continues.

While details remain sketchy on what could have provoked Cordelius to allegedly kill Jackson, Gipson said Cordelius might have been punched in the face by someone other than Jackson.

Brown said one of three video surveillance cameras operated by city police provided police with key information that helped in the arrest.

Cordelius, Gipson added, became a suspect early in the investigation based on the surveillance video and a number of interviews conducted by detectives.

Homicide detectives questioned Cordelius several times, including Wednesday morning, when he appeared in City Court to answer a summons on a criminal mischief charge. As he was questioned, Cordelius confessed to killing Jackson, police said.

Garnett’s family members Wednesday said they are shattered by his death. “We definitely all hope for [an arrest], hopefully soon,” said Richard Garnett, Jesse’s twin brother, a UB psychology major.

Police in Buffalo and Amherst say it is a tragic coincidence that two roommates would share the same violent fate in unrelated cases.

Two days after Jackson’s death, Jesse Garnett stood in Jackson’s bedroom on Lisbon Avenue as Williams packed up her dead son’s belongings. He made a public plea for better protection of UB students.

Garnett’s own words seem haunting now that he has joined Jackson on the list of recent homicides.

“What happened to Javon was just crazy. Kids can’t go out and have a good time anymore,” Garnett said that day in an interview with The News.

Garnett, who was not a UB student, explained that he had moved to Buffalo eight months ago from Yonkers to live with his twin brother. “It has to be safe for the students and anybody else,” Jesse Garnett had said. “We need more security.”

Garnett was shot several times at about 9:30 p. m. Monday in a Yale Avenue apartment east of Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst in what may have been a lover’s triangle, authorities said.

He was visiting a woman and her 2- year-old son. Amherst police described the woman as Garnett’s friend, stopping just short of saying he was her boyfriend.

Andre Ridgeway, 24, of Buffalo, has been identified as a person of interest wanted for questioning in the shooting and was an acquaintance of Garnett, according to Amherst Assistant Police Chief Timothy Green.

In what seemed a surreal replay of two weeks ago when Jackson’s parents were packing up their deceased son’s clothes and books in the Lisbon Avenue apartment, Jesse Garnett’s family, some of them immigrants from Liberia, filled that apartment Wednesday to do the same.

And, like the Jacksons, they had another grim task — making arrangements with Brian K. Lewis, the same Sycamore Street funeral director who had made arrangements to send Jackson’s remains downstate.

Burdened with grief, Garnett family members asked to be left alone while they tended to their son and nephew’s final affairs.

If the Jackson family’s grief is any type of road map of what the Garnett family will travel, they can expect a long journey.

“I still can’t imagine not coming home with my son,” Williams said from her home in the Bronx. “We were counting the minutes. Javon was so excited about completing his degree. He had never given up on it. I was calling him every day and he’d tell me, ‘Mom, I’m studying,’ or ‘I just have a few more things to do.’ ”

The grieving mother also said she remains touched by Jesse’s twin brother, Richard. “He traveled from Buffalo to New York City to be at Javon’s funeral, and I was comforted by him. That showed me the type of friends Javon was involved with,” Williams said.

And while the Garnetts declined to talk, Javon’s mother said, “I know what they are going through.”

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