Wesley Arey, a Grassroots leader in the Deaf community has experienced a horrible and preventable tragedy in his family. On July 9, 2020, his son-in-law Bruce L. Williams was murdered. There are two individuals that have been arrested and charged. Ja’Quez Eshaun Jerome Brown, 18, of Fishersville has been charged with First Degree Murder, Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder, and Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony. Cameron Isaiah Bahle, 20, of Norcross, Georgia was arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder. Both of them are being held without bond.
July 15, 2020
To the Honorable Mayor Oakes:
On July 9, 2020, my son-in-law Bruce L. Williams was mercilessly murdered at the Springhill Village apartment complex. Bruce and my daughter, Lesha, had two children. He had turned only 26 years old a week before his murder.
This was the second time in just three weeks that police had been called to the complex for a murder. Based on the extremely limited information we have garnered, this was a targeted, gang-related killing — but that’s not the reason for this letter. The reason for this letter is to plead for action.
Bruce’s murder was absolutely preventable and should have been easily solved. It hasn’t been solved, for a number of reasons, the foremost being that Staunton has such limited resources devoted to neighborhood safety especially in the Springhill Village area. Perhaps it’s because Springhill Village is a residence for individuals who have limited incomes, or perhaps it’s because there’s been a high number of police visits to the complex since January, according to media reports. Or perhaps the city simply doesn’t care, given the rampant corruption found throughout the Staunton Police Department.
But I refuse to believe this. As a long-time Staunton resident, I believe Staunton’s administrators deeply care for our residents regardless of income, location, or ethnicity. I also believe that the City of Staunton is sincere in wanting to keep this small town crime-free, especially with the gang cartels we have here.
There are many strategies that should have been in place long before my son-in-law’s murder. The Springhill Village area is a high-crime area; across from the complex is a wooded area that is prime grounds for criminal activities. Currently, there are no surveillance or security cameras in the apartment complex. There were no security measures in place prior to Bruce’s shooting; had there been cameras fully operating that night, we certainly would have more information and even a suspect for Bruce’s murder.
The fateful evening Bruce was killed, police arrived on the murder scene within five to seven minutes of the incident, yet no immediate action was taken. There were no roadblocks or perimeters established around the city to potentially catch the car holding the killer(s). Police calmly stood around chatting and shooing people away from the murder scene instead of canvassing the community and quickly springing into action.
This, to me, demonstrates a blatant disregard for the value of a father who was simply outside of his apartment.
I request that the City of Staunton takes immediate action to revamp its policing resources especially for the Springhill Village area, and that the Staunton Police Department shares information with Bruce’s family immediately so that we know if there is a suspect and/or other helpful information. Staunton needs to increase its funding for policing especially high-crime areas that may have low-income residents, but also have children who need to be safe, too.
I need to be able to explain to my young grandchildren why they will never return to their father’s apartment, why they will never see him again, and if justice was served. They are only 3 and 5; they have their whole lives in front of them. This life experience will shape their world ideology and futures; I want to assure them that they are safe and that their young father did not die in vain.
Please do not allow Bruce’s death to be simply another crime statistic. He was a father and son who was very much loved by us all.
Wesley Arey Sr.
Arey’s family has written this letter to the Mayor of Staunton to request changes within the community they live in. In this letter, they say that Staunton needs police reform to prevent further killings. Deaf Vee Journal has received permission to republish this letter. If you have any information, please contact the Staunton Police Department.