There will be a candlelight picket Sunday for Peter “Bernardo” Spencer, a Jamaican immigrant who was killed after a colleague invited him to a cabin outside of Pittsburgh in December.
Pittsburgh protestsan activist group that usually focuses on police violence against black people, announced a family vigil on Twitter on Wednesday calling for people to join in their call for justice over Spencer’s unexplained death.
Spencer’s fiancée, Carmela King, said he was killed after he went camping with a friend and that he was “the only black man in the camp,” according to a GoFundMe campaign launched by King.
Pennsylvania State Troopers found a 29-year-old man dead with apparent gunshot wounds in Venango County on Dec. 12. According to the police report, the soldiers responded to the call about the shooting at 2:26 am when they found Spencer dead. in the yard of a residential building” with “obvious gunshot wounds on the body”.
Soldiers said they seized “several firearms, ballistic evidence” and “controlled substances” at the scene. The report lists one 25-year-old suspect as well as “three other identified individuals.” All four were “detained and interrogated” at the police station and all were released “until additional investigations are carried out.”
But almost two months later, Spencer’s family is still searching for answers, and a growing number of members of the community are demanding that authorities step up their investigation.
The Venango County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release that the investigation would “complete in 4-6 weeks from the Jan. 25 date,” according to CBS Pittsburgh. “Public information must be combined with a commitment to a full and thorough investigation.”
Venango County, 80 miles north of Pittsburgh, has 1.1% of its nearly 55,000 black population, according to the US Census Bureau.
According to WTAE-TV, about 100 religious and community leaders sent a letter to local and state governments calling for an investigation by state attorney general Josh Shapiro.
“Our voices will continue to move and open and speak until we know what happened to our brother,” the Rev. Larry Picken, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, said at a press conference Wednesday. “His blood continues to cry out to us.”
Spencer’s brother, Tehila, said “something is different in this case.” He added: “They don’t want another George Floyd. They want to sweep it under the rug,” he told Yahoo News.
Spencer’s mother, Isilda Spencer-Henry, told the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner that her son is not perfect, but “he doesn’t like anyone around him who doesn’t work.”
“He worked hard and always encouraged others to do better work,” she said.
“He was a force of nature,” Teyla Spencer told Yahoo News. “He wanted the American Dream for himself. He was always trying to improve himself.”
Calls for a closer investigation into Spencer’s death echo those in Connecticut, where two detectives from the Bridgeport Police Department were suspended for investigating the deaths of two black women.
Relatives of one of the victims, Lauren Smith-Fields, accused Bridgeport police of being “racially insensitive” to their family and not conducting a full investigation into her death.
The Spencer family hired their own medical examiner in search of answers, CBS Pittsburgh reports.
HuffPost has reached out to Spencer family attorney Paul Jubas for additional comment.