The man accused of killing a 14-year-old boy and wounding three other teenagers during a fight outside an East Side housing project two weeks ago changed his appearance during the 36 hours between the shootings and his arrest, Erie County’s top prosecutor said Wednesday.
Joseph P. Gant got a Mohawk haircut sometime between 3:30 p.m. Aug. 12, when Gant allegedly fired shots into a crowd that had gathered to watch two girls fight, and late Aug. 13, when he was arrested, District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said at a news conference.
“That’s somewhat unusual,” he said, referring to the haircut.
Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin-Gable revealed Gant’s change in appearance during his arraignment Wednesday in Erie County Court on new charges in connection with the shootings on Oakmont Avenue.
Defense attorney Samuel P. Davis played down his client’s new hairstyle. “He got a haircut. That’s not unlawful,” he told Judge Michael L. D’Amico.
Before Gant’s arrest, several eyewitnesses reportedly identified him as the shooter.
But Curtin-Gable told the judge that one witness picked someone other than the defendant from a photo array of people with arrest records. She said the person in the selected photo had died in a 2007 murder.
After his arrest, Gant, 28, of Marigold Avenue, was initially charged with one count of second-degree murder and three counts of first-degree assault.
But he has been indicted on nine new charges, and he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday.
The charges include one count of intentional murder and one count of reckless murder in the fatal shooting of Raymond Floyd Patterson III, 14.
Other charges include three counts of attempted murder and three counts of second-degree assault in the wounding of the three other victims – two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old. The ninth charge is second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
D’Amico ordered Gant continued held without bail, set Oct. 21 for motions to be filed and next March 16 for trial.
Sedita said Gant faces a minimum prison sentence of 15 years to life and a maximum of 100 years to life if convicted.
At the time of Gant’s arrest, police said he had been refereeing a fight between two girls in a parking lot behind the Kenfield-Langfield public housing complex when he got in a fight with another person.
Gant then pulled out a handgun and started shooting randomly, authorities said.
Patterson was killed on a footbridge over the Kensington Expressway linking the housing complex to Roosevelt Park as he tried to flee.Patterson and the three wounded youths were all bystanders, police said.