Hate crime? Black man arrested for ‘n-word’ graffiti, swastikas at Emory University

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ATLANTA, GA – In August, someone painted several racist and offensive slurs on a building at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Police have just arrested a black man for the crime.

Police reports of the crime stated that the area where racial slurs were reportedly written along the walls was near the workspace occupied by two African American women. A swastika was also placed in a hallway near a Jewish man’s office.

Parents, teachers, and administrators expressed outrage over the racial slurs and called for bringing the perpetrators to justice under that state’s new hate crime statute.

An email statement from Emory University Spokesperson Laura Diamond said:

“Staff members arrived to discover graffiti depicting racial slurs and swastikas and damage to physical property. The EAC is working closely with the Emory University Police Department to investigate this incident.”

In a message emailed to faculty and staff, university leaders stated that:

“These acts of racism and antisemitism are painful for all of us at the EAC and in the Emory community. They will not be tolerated, and every effort will be made to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Former DeKalb District Attorney Robert James said the crime falls under the new hate crime law:

“As long as there are people that would do something like this, our laws have to be constructed in such a way that they can be adequately addressed.

“I believe this is why [the hate crime statute] was drafted and passed in the first place, to address conduct like this.”

On Wednesday, Emory University’s Police Department arrested the man accused of writing the racial slurs and swastikas.

Roy Lee Gordon Jr. has been charged with second-degree burglary, Emory officials said in a news release that indicated Gordon is also the same person who allegedly wrote the “N-word” and drew swastikas at the Emory Autism Center last month. He is a former employee of the university.

Gordon has not been charged under the state’s new hate crime law.

Police reports indicate that Emory officials became aware that the actor was a black man in early August, but never informed the campus or the press. This allowed the belief that the crime was racially motivated to perpetuate.

In a press statement released by the university on August 20, 2021, Emory officials stated:

“The Emory Police Department (EPD) obtained an arrest warrant Friday regarding the recent incident at the Emory Autism Center that included graffiti with racial slurs and swastikas and damage to physical property. Roy Lee Gordon, Jr., a former part-time temporary employee at Emory, was charged with burglary second degree.

“Emory University is committed to fostering a safe and inclusive campus for all faculty, staff, students, patients and their families.”

When asked about the race of the suspect upon the announcement of his arrest, the university refused to comment, claiming they could not “share personnel information and can’t speculate his intentions.”

A press release issued by the university on September 23 announcing Gordon’s arrest made no mention of his race:

“Sheriff Melody M. Maddox and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department partnered with Emory police in the arrest of Roy Lee Gordon Jr. earlier today on the charge of burglary second degree.

The Emory Police Department (EPD) issued a warrant on Aug. 20 charging Gordon, a former part-time/temporary employee at Emory. On Aug. 9, Emory Autism Center staff members arrived to discover graffiti depicting racial slurs and swastikas and damage to physical property.

“’This case was a priority for our entire department, including our security systems team.’ says Emory Police Chief Cheryl D. Elliott. ‘I’m proud of the work from the team and our law enforcement partners to recognize the sensitivity of this case to our community and bring a resolution.’”

However, the university did continue to create the false impression that the crime was race-related:

“Acts of racism and antisemitism are painful for the entire Emory community. EPD’s priority is fostering a safe and inclusive campus for all faculty, staff, students, patients and their families, while upholding Emory’s values and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Gordon’s race only became public after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a mug shot of Gordon.

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Hate crime? Texas man with history of domestic violence kills woman then self in hotel lobby

September 17, 2021

 

HOUSTON, TX – A 27-year-old woman was gunned down by a 39-year-old man before he took his own life late Tuesday afternoon in a tragic murder-suicide in the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston.

The couple arrived in the hotel lobby carrying luggage and appeared to be intent on checking into the hotel together, according to police.

Police said the couple arrived in the hotel lobby carrying luggage and appeared to be intent on checking into the hotel. Guests said the couple began arguing in the lobby and shots rang out.

Police said Jenna Soferberg was shot and killed by Sherrick Byrd before turning the gun on himself.

At a press conference after the shooting, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the crime did not appear random :

“The gentleman did come in at some point … shot the female and then immediately shot himself.”

“We do not think this is a random event or incident. We do believe–and we have reason to believe that there’s some type of relationship.

“Investigation is going to determine exactly what relationship it is. But, as I always say, this is tragic. We’ve got, apparently, two families affected here. It is a murder-suicide. The gentleman did come in at some point, shot the female, and then immediately shot himself.”

Chief Finner said the investigation would be completed rapidly:

“I want to pray for the victims, but also it’s on us as a police department, as the City of Houston and as businesses to get it back up and running. Doing an investigation– doing a complete investigation–getting this business up and running. They are still accepting guests.”

Court documents tell the story of a couple in a stormy relationship involving domestic violence and abuse.

Travis County court records show that Soferberg was brutally attacked by Byrd on June 13, 2018. Documents described the attack, saying police arrived and found her with both her eyes swollen shut, blood coming from a deep cut on her head, and bruises all over her body.

The victim reached out for help in 2019 after Byrd assaulted her outside an Austin Burger King. She escaped by locking herself in a restroom. He left only after employees threatened to call police.

One week after the assault, she filed for a protection order against Byrd. In court filings, she wrote about the Burger King assault and another assault in 2018:

“I want this protective order because I am afraid for my safety when Sherrick is around.

“The incident on July 4, 2019, showed me that Sherrick is erratic and aggressive, and I am afraid of future violence. I am scared of what could happen if Sherrick is allowed to be around me and I want this protective order to keep me safe.”

Tragically, the protection order was dismissed when the court could not find Byrd to serve him.

According to KHOU News, DPS records show he pleaded guilty to a lesser domestic violence charge in Travis County and was sentenced to 112 days in jail in May 2021.

In 2009, Byrd was convicted of the same charge in Denton County and served about six months in jail.

At some point, Soferberg moved to Atlanta. What remains unclear is why she returned to Houston.

What is clear is that she and Byrd arrived at the hotel in a separate car but were seen arguing in the lobby of the hotel moments before the shooting.

  

 

 

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