The 70-year-old man brutally attacked over the weekend at the 7-Eleven on Valley Drive has died from his injuries. James Gifford had lived in the neighborhood a long time and was just leaving the store when he was attacked. The alleged attacker, Romeo Williams is in jail on assault charges. Our Iris St. Meran was at a news conference Syracuse Police held Wednesday night and has the latest.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Police say it now becomes a homicide. Investigators will be consulting with the District Attorney's office to determine where they will go from here. Sergeant Tom Connellan anticipates the charges will be upgraded.
Romeo Williams, 18, is currently charged with second degree assault. It's still unclear if this will be presented before a grand jury or if Williams will have to be re-arrested when and if the charges get upgraded.
This has been a very emotional case for the police department. The police chief initially expressed anger because this was a random, unprovoked and vicious assault. Authorities said Williams appeared to be "celebrating" the assault on surveillance video.
Gifford had lived in the neighborhood for some time, but his relatives live in Texas and were traveling here to be with him.
"Our sympathy goes out to Mr. Gifford's family. Unfortunately, his family did not make it to Syracuse before he passed today. We're all very sad about that because we know that they wanted to try and get here so that he was not alone," Connellan said.
Connellan says this is still an active investigation.
Police have located all the people who were with Romeo Williams at the time the assault occurred, as well as the person who stopped to perform CPR on Gifford.