TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Shock and grief has gripped the city of Troy after police announced two young children were among the four people killed inside a Lansingburgh apartment.
Troy Police Capt. Dan DeWolf said police were called to 158 2nd Ave. around 12:50 p.m. Tuesday after the property manager reported finding four people unresponsive in the basement apartment.
When officers and medics arrived, they found four people dead.
The victims were identified on Thursday as 5-year-old Shanise Myers, 11-year-old Jeremiah Myers, 36-year-old Shanta Myers (Mother to both children), and 22-year-old Brandi Mells.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco spoke of the savagery of the crime.
“After being in this business for almost 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person like this,” he said. “I don’t know of a word that could say.”
Tedesco said Myers and Mells were in a relationship with one another and lived with the children in the basement apartment. He refused to release the cause and manner of death, possible motive, or a weapon used.
He said the bodies were discovered by a property manager who was asked to check on their welfare. Once inside, the manager called 911.
911 Dispatcher: “Our caller reports three people with their hands behind their backs not breathing.”
“We feel that someone who commits a crime of this magnitude is capable of anything, but we do not believe it was a random act,” Tedesco said. “We do not believe there is any imminent danger to the community.”
COMMUNITY CALLS FOR ANSWERS
As police continue to investigate, the community searches for answers. Horrific, tragic, unimaginable were words used to describe the scene.
“How could something like this happen?” City Councilman Mark McGrath wondered. “What would drive any individual or individuals to attack children like that?”
“That somebody did such a violent horrific act to a child, people are a little bit on edge,” he continued.
Frank Mayben knew the young boy who died. He coached Jeremiah in baseball and basketball at the Troy Central School District.
“Outstanding young man,” he said. “Very coachable. Listened. Had the discipline. Wanted to be a leader. Wanted to be part of everything that was right.”
The community is asking for anyone with information to come forward and to disobey whatever “street code” may exist.
“When you’re dealing with violence and children that code is broken,” McGrath said. “Really somebody needs to come forward.”
“The people need to cry out,” United Ordained Church Rev. Charles Burkes said. “And whoever is out there that knows anything, they need to stop respecting the street code and give up their information.”
And asking whoever is responsible to come forward.
“There’s no justification for it,” Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church Rev. Jackie Robinson Sr. said. “I mean, give yourself up. How can you live with yourself? Doing something like this.”
REMEMBERING THE LIVES LOST
On Thursday, Joanie and Jennifer Davis braved the cold to lay balloons in memory of Shanise and Jeremiah.
Jeremiah, who went by JJ, was Jennifer’s son’s best friend.
“My son is very upset,” she said. “He don’t want to talk about it.”
Her son, Boo Boo, is JJ’s age. She said they did everything together.
“He loved basketball. Him and Boo Boo loved their basketball,” she recalled. “Boo Boo’s father fixed their bike just over the summer so they could go bike riding.”
Michael, who didn’t want to give his last name, lives in the building where the killings took place.
“I know it’s sad,” he said. “It’s really sad. It’s a tragedy that they killed two children.”
Michael said he didn’t hear or see anything out of the ordinary but wants anyone with information to come forward.
“They need to step up and tell somebody; say something,” he said.
The notion of an unbreakable “street code” came up again.
“It’s hard to break it,” Jennifer said. “Loyalty lies in the streets a lot. But they’re children. It doesn’t count to me.”
She said she couldn’t imagine the terror they went through in their final moments.
“He was scared,” she said. “I know they were scared, and they didn’t deserve it.”
NEIGHBORS ON EDGE
Jason Fenton has lived across the street from the scene for nearly 20 years.
Andrew Jackson lives a few houses away.
“Sad, very sad for families to be murdered and killed in their own community and nobody has any regard,” he said.
He remembers seeing the family walk by his place all the time.
“You know, I would see them on the streets and they spoke to me and I spoke to them,” he said.
Tim Hardgrove lives down the street.
Wednesday night, people came to the 2nd Avenue building to pay respects to the family that was violently taken away.
“Support and love from other people is definitely needed,” Cortlyn Clooney said as she left candles in the family’s honor.
Neighbor Tony Kruegler remained in shock.
“You have to wonder what goes through someone’s mind to kill anyone let alone four,” he said. “Children being involved – it’s as bad as it gets.”
POLICE SEEKING TIPS
While police called it an isolated incident, some in the community did not agree that the threat of violence had disappeared.
“Until they catch whoever did it then there are certainly reasons to be fearful,” Robinson Sr. said. “We don’t know who did it.”
“We are talking about the tragic taking of four lives,” Tedesco said. “I can only ask that if you know anything, even if you feel it is insignificant but you feel it is out of the ordinary, please call us.”
Anyone with information can call the Troy Police Department or submit an anonymous tip through Capital Region Crime Stoppers. The hotline is 1 (833)-ALB-TIPS or the app can be downloaded for free by searching P3TIPS.
As for a suspect or suspects, Tedesco said they are talking to a lot of people but have not isolated anyone.
Victory Christian Church of Albany is offering a $10,000 reward for information that may lead to an arrest and conviction in the case.
Troy Boys and Girls Club
“Jeremiah “JJ” Myers, an 11 year old boy who tragically died alongside his family members this past weekend, was a member of the Troy Boys & Girls Club for the past six years. He was a quintessential “Club Kid” who impacted the lives of so many staff, children and teens, parents and volunteers.
The Troy Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors, staff, Club members and our entire Club community are shocked and saddened by this tragedy. It will be deeply felt by all his friends at the Club and throughout our community. We send our deepest condolences to the Myers family, and the many people that knew and loved them.
We have arranged for grief counselors to be available through the Club for members and parents who are in need.
Additionally, we are beginning fundraising efforts to help alleviate the cost of funeral and burial services. Anyone who may be interested in donating to this cause should visit the Troy Boys & Girls Club Facebook page. For more information, please contact Hollyanne Buntich at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Troy Central School District
“We are deeply saddened by the news of this tragic event. The Troy City School District is a close and supportive community and the loss of two of our innocent children is especially devastating. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and deepest condolences are with their family and loved ones during this terribly troubling time. Our crisis response team is currently in place at School 14 and Troy Middle School where the two children attended school. Grief counselors will remain in place next week when students return to school from the holiday recess.”
The Troy Boys & Girls Club in conjunction with the Troy City School District will be providing Grief and Crisis Support for the parents and children of the community. The public is welcome to join us in the Troy Middle School Auditorium from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.