Victim’s loved ones speak out after Strong verdict
Updated: Wednesday, July 2 2014, 06:36 AM EDT
Rochester, N.Y. - Ralph Strong Jr. has been found guilty on six charges in Monroe County Court Tuesday. Two counts of first degree murder, attempted murder, reckless endangerment, and two counts of assault—one of those charges was reduced from the first to the second degree because the fourth victim’s injuries were not considered to be serious.
The victim’s families walked out of the courtroom, overwhelmed by mixed emotions after the verdict was announced.
"Right now what I am feeling is joy and pain joyful because he's guilty and he's never getting out of jail and painful that I will never see my brother again and Jahmia's family is never going to see Jahmia again," said Tiffany Jones.
Strong gunned down two men, Jahmia Singleton, 31, and Reggie Johnson, 27, both of Rochester, outside of a nightclub in the city on June 24, 2013.
Jones said it’s been a long, painful year for her family. "I lost my brother, Reggie Johnson was my brother and I finally get to mourn him…I finally get to cry, finally," said Jones.
Singleton’s younger brother, Ernest Singleton said, “It’s still hurtful, we are still healing you know this is just one piece of it.”
The verdict delivered justice and relief for the families who lost their loved ones and the two who survived the second incident.
Three days after the shooting outside of Club Network, Strong shot Sgt. Flamur Zenelovic during an exchange of gunfire on N. Goodman Street following a police chase. Zenelovic was hit twice in the arms, and a passing motorist was struck in the lower body during the shootout.
Zenelovic said, "It helps to bring this incident to a close, in different ways for all of us and we looked forward to sentencing and ensuring Ralph Strong is sentenced to the maximum possible for all the damage he's done to everyone over this last year.”
Disappointed in the ruling, Strong’s attorney said he plans to file an appeal. “Our next step is to make what’s called a 330 motion asking that the charges be dismissed and the jury verdict be vacated and start back at square one.” Attorney Paul Vacca said the two incidents should have been tried separately but the families and the surviving victims hope the verdict stands and they can finally start to heal.
Jones said, “He’s a monster-what kind of individual would do something like that but a monster-I’m just glad he is off the streets.”
Strong is scheduled to be sentenced in September—he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole for each of the murder charges.