Spencer’s Death Not Being Investigated as Hate Crime; PSP Asks for Patience While Demands for Arrests Grow

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Police say the death of an Allegheny County man in Rockland Township earlier this month is not being investigated as a hate crime.

Meanwhile, calls for arrests in the case continue to grow as no charges have been filed. Police are urging patience while they continue their investigation.

Franklin-based State Police responded to an incident at 279 Carls Road in Rockland Township around 2:26 a.m. on Sunday, December 12, and found 29-year-old Peter Spencer, a 29-year-old Jamaican immigrant from Allegheny County, deceased.

Venango County Coroner Christina Rugh ruled his death a homicide.

Rugh told exploreClarion.com that she examined the body at the scene and determined that Spencer had been shot nine times, once in the mouth, twice in his buttocks, and six times in the chest and abdomen.

Rugh said she received the call about Spencer’s death around 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, December 12. Once at the scene, she, officials from the Venango County District Attorney’s Office, and state police observed Spencer’s body.

“At that point, that was about it,” she said. “We backed out of the scene and waited for a search warrant. I stayed there until the search warrant was obtained.”

A 25-year-old male suspect, as well as three additional individuals, were detained and questioned by police; however, they were later released.

Firearms, ballistics evidence, and controlled substances were all seized from the scene, according to police.

Pennsylvania State Police’s Western Heritage Affairs Liaison Officer Corporal Aaron Allen is overseeing the investigation into Spencer’s death and said it is not being looked at as a hate crime. He explained his job is to mediate tensions stemming from incidents like this and that he has been in contact with Spencer’s family.

“What I can give you about the investigation is it’s still an ongoing investigation,” Allen told exploreClarion.com. “These things take time like any investigation would. We are waiting on a couple of things to come back – one being the autopsy, the next one being the toxicology reports, and also the lab analysis.”

Incidentally, Rugh stated the autopsy has not been completed as she is waiting on the toxicology reports. She said it is standard for the autopsy report to take two to three months to complete. The state police are handling the forensic investigation.

Allen said after state police complete their investigation, they will turn the results to Venango County DA Shawn White, who will decide whether to pursue charges.

ExploreClarion.com has placed several calls to White’s office for comment, but a reply has not been received.

Allen said he could not give an answer as to how long the investigation will take.

“We don’t want to rush anything,” he said. “When things are rushed, we’re not doing a proper job, and we’re doing a disservice to the families and things of that nature.”

According to Allen, people should have trust the investigation will be conducted thoroughly and with due diligence.

“There are levels to this process, and there are systems put in place to make sure the proper things are being done in any investigation, not just this one,” Allen added.

William Anderson, who serves as chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Black Caucus and chief of staff of the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus, has called for charges in the case.

“He came here for the American dream, he came here to be free, and he was assassinated,” said Anderson.

Anderson said he was contacted by Spencer’s family about the case.

Spencer lived in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh with his family and immigrated to the United States from Jamaica in 2013, according to Anderson.

Anderson said the suspect was released after claiming self-defense. He argued strongly that both the facts in the case and the law make Spencer’s death a hate crime.

“You cannot claim self-defense after shooting a person multiple times, and any law enforcement officer that accepts a claim of the self-defense and does not immediately charge a person after shooting someone nine times, you do not need to be a law enforcement officer,” he said.

Asked about the suspect claiming self-defense, Corporal Allen said he would not speak on that specific claim but stated the suspect was released due to the ongoing investigation and consultation with District Attorney White.

Anderson said he has received no communication from state police or the Venango County DA’s Office after multiple attempts at trying. He said he wants to bring national and international to Spencer’s death and said he has sent 400 emails to different activists and politicians to raise awareness of the incident.

He stated he wants to see the “immediate arrests and prosecution of everybody involved in the murder of Peter Spencer,” by Spencer’s funeral, which is on New Year’s Eve.

“This is 1,000 times worse than George Floyd,” he said.

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