18-year-old charged with beating 70-year-old man, celebrating attack at 7-Eleven

Chief Fowler and Mayor Miner address the media Monday morning

A Syracuse teen with a long criminal record was arrested for allegedly beating an elderly man, and celebrating the attack, outside of a convenience store over the weekend.

At a news conference Monday morning, an emotional Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler was joined by Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner to announce the arrest of 18-year-old Romeo Williams of Chemung Avenue in Syracuse.

Williams is charged with second degree assault after he

allegedly attacked 70-year-old James Gifford

in front of the 7-Eleven on Valley Drive at South Street early Saturday morning. The Associated Press reports that the attack left Gifford in critical condition.

Fowler says that just after 6:00 a.m., Gifford was leaving the store when he was attacked unprovoked by Williams. Williams allegedly hit Gifford in the face, knocking him unconscious. Williams then went into the store and celebrated his attack before coming back out to resume the assault on Gifford, who was laying on the ground in the parking lot.

Fowler says four friends of Williams witnessed the attack and had to pull Williams off of Gifford. They are cooperating with police and will likely not be charged. Fowler says there is surveillance video of the incident.

Williams has an extensive criminal record. According to Syracuse Police, he has been arrested 14 times in his 18 years, including three felony charges (two violent felonies) and two firearm-related arrests.

Fowler said the attack was unprovoked, and Williams and Gifford did not know each other. He says Gifford was a â??gentle soul who didnâ??t bother anyone.â?? He added that this did not appear to be a form of the â??knockout gameâ?? that

caused the death of a Syracuse man in May


Mayor Miner added that there may be one positive to take away from the incident. â??We have seen a community band together to say this is unconscionable,â?? said Miner. â??Violence like this needs a community-wide solution, as it goes to the very fiber of our community.â??

Charles Williams, Romeoâ??s father, told CNY Centralâ??s Jim Kenyon, â??My son was on drugs, that â??Mollyâ?? and â??water.â??â?? He appeared very distraught and had tears in his eyes as he said he was "very angry" with his son.

Williams was arraigned in Syracuse City Court Monday morning before Judge Vanessa Bogan, who entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Williams was sent to the Onondaga County jail on $100,000 cash bail or bond and is scheduled to return to court on September 27.

The Onondaga County District Attorneyâ??s Office says the case will go before a Grand Jury and additional charges against Williams may be pending.