Courtroom chaos: Fight erupts during double-murder hearing

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As the arraignment for a suspect in a double murder case was wrapping up, a fight broke out in the court room.

Jermaine Williams, 23, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He was taken into custody May 31 by the U.S. Marshals Violent Felony Fugitive Task Force in Niagara Falls and taken back to Rochester.

On Saturday, June 1, the court room erupted into a brawl between the families of the two victims and Williams’ family as he was arraigned in Rochester City Court.

As Williams was escorted out of the courtroom, he turned and said, “Alright, mom.” Almost immediately, screaming ensued as officers yelled, “Out of the court room!”

Punches were thrown as officers tried to break up the fight, made up of a couple dozen people. As the brawl continued, those not involved moved to safer spaces in the court room until the fight subsided. One woman moved up to the front row of the court room, and sat with her eyes closed, clutching to the arm of the woman next to her.

“What I can tell you is that this was unquestionably, and unnecessary loss of life,” says Assistant District Attorney Adam VanHeyst. “The families of these two victims, I feel terrible for them. This is a horrible tragedy. And I can tell you that the victims involved in this case were completely and entirely innocent and were not deserving at all of these actions.”

Officers were able to break up the fight in about two minutes. Two people were arrested as a result of the brawl.

Williams pleaded not guilty on Saturday, and is tentatively scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on June 5.

Background on the investigation:

Rochester Police found two people on May 6 — Timothy Chealey, 43, and Shatina Jones, 46 — who had been shot, when they responded to a report of gunshots on Rialto Street. Chealey was pronounced dead at the scene, and Jones died at the hospital shortly after arrival. A third person also was shot and recovered.

Investigators determined that overnight on May 5 into May 6, there was an altercation at the Sexyy Red concert at the Blue Cross Arena. Police said some of the people involved were hanging out on Rialto Street after the concert, when Williams went to Rialto Street and fired more than a dozen shots at the group.