Leaders of the local and state chapters of the NAACP appealed for calm Friday and asked that people let justice take its course in the case of a local druggist accused of killing a teen involved in a May 19 armed robbery. Leaders of the NAACP and the Hispanic Action Coalition held a news conference Friday in which they praised Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater for filing a murder charge against Jerome Jay Ersland, 57, the druggist who was on duty when two black teens tried to rob Reliable Discount Pharmacy, 5900 S Pennsylvania Ave. Ersland is white. Prosecutors claim Ersland fired one shot that hit Antwun Parker, 16, in the head. He then chased the other teen, identified as 14-year-old Jevontia Ingram, out of the store. Surveillance video shows Ersland returned to the counter where prosecutors say he retrieved a second gun before walking to where Parker was laying incapacitated on the ground and firing five shots into his stomach. Ingram, Emanuel Dwayne Mitchell, 31, an Anthony Devale Morrison, 43, also face murder charges in the case. Prosecutors believe Mitchell and Morrison talked the teens into the robbery. Oklahoma NAACP President Anthony Douglas said people should let the courts determine Ersland’s fate. Ersland was released on $100,000 bail Thursday. "We urge the community to let the process work,” Douglas said. "We do not wish the community to take up arms or retaliate.” Roosevelt Milton, former president of the Oklahoma City NAACP chapter, said many in the black community were understandably upset after seeing surveillance video of the incident showing Ersland firing repeatedly at Parker, who prosecutors say was just off-screen on the floor of the pharmacy. "But for the film of this incident, virtually everyone, including myself, would be extolling the pharmacist for his heroic and brave act to stamp out crime,” Milton said. "These two kids made an egregious mistake which cost one of them his life. But that doesn’t necessarily justify the fatal premeditated taking of a life.” Reginald Mitchell, president of the Oklahoma City NAACP chapter, said the incident must also force the community to confront youth violence and a culture which allows two teens access to a gun. "This type of tragedy does not have any color,” Mitchell said. "It touches all of us. We must come together, and clear heads must prevail. We must come up with some solutions to these problems.” Douglas said the NAACP is planning workshops addressing crime prevention and gang violence. NAACP leaders said Oklahoma City is desperately in need of adults willing to get involved in the educational system to give teens hope that they can succeed without becoming involved in crime. "Those young men should have been in school,” Mitchell said. "We as a community are going to have to embrace our problems. It’s not a black thing, and it’s not a white thing. We’re going to have to cross those color lines and all those barriers and try to fix the situation in our community.”
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