It has been over two months since DeJour Xavier Gandy, 29, a Newfield High School graduate and local pre-kindergarten teacher, was shot and killed inside his own home in Newfield. His family, friends, coworkers and the many children and parents who knew him are still awaiting answers regarding what happened Dec. 7 and who was responsible.
According to the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling Gandy’s case, a witness said three masked black men entered the home and quickly left after one of them shot Gandy.
The Sheriff’s Office has been largely silent since the weeks immediately after Gandy’s death, when it asked the public for information and announced it was offering an award via Crime Stoppers.
Gandy’s mother, Resana Malone, said her relationship with the Sheriff’s Office soured almost immediately when she did not receive a next of kin notification about her son’s death.
“They haven’t talked to me ever,” she said, adding that her attorney’s advice is that she not speak to law enforcement at this point in time. As a mother who was very close to her son, she said she feels “disregarded” and “disrespected.”
“It’s too late for them,” she said of the investigators. “I called them, but they won’t give me anything.”
Malone, who resides in Tucson, AZ, said she stayed in Ithaca for a month to be close to family and also to assist in the investigation in any way she could, but she recently returned to Tucson. The family did what they could by doubling the reward, she said, and now there is not much else she can do.
“Other than that, we’re just waiting for tips to come,” she said. “All I feel now is the loss and heartbreak of my child [...] this not knowing anything or hearing anything is egregious to me […] I have to try to make it my normalcy, whatever that is supposed to be.”
“We have not heard from the DA’s (District Attorney’s) office [or] the sheriff’s department. We haven’t heard anything,” said Amos Malone, Gandy’s uncle and elder at Second Chance Ministry in Ithaca.
Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne issued a statement after the publication of this story, claiming that he had spent "a great deal of time on the phone with Mr. Gandy's mother, [Resana] Malone" and had tried to have her to the office for an in-person meeting and briefing. He says she declined the offer.
"As reported, she (and witnesses to the shooting) obtained legal counsel soon after the incident," Osborne said. "Although this was their right, it has slowed our investigative efforts. I commend the continued diligent work of my staff, even when faced with such negativity."
He also said he understands the public's requests for updates, but that sometimes the police can't satisfy those requests without hurting their investigative efforts.
Gandy’s aunt, Denise Malone, of Ithaca, told Finger Lakes Community News in January that she took issue with the way the circumstances were presented by the Sheriff’s Office in its original press release. The release stated, “This incident is believed to be a targeted attack of a specific person,” which Denise Malone said was widely misconstrued to mean that Gandy was the intended target of the attack, which she said was not the case.
Lieutenant Kyle Koskinen of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office said he cannot make any public statements regarding the case at this time, but he encourages anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers or the department’s tip line, even if that information is only a second- or third-hand rumor.
“As more and more time goes on, it’s tough,” he acknowledged, saying he sympathizes with those who are growing impatient with the investigation. “They want answers—we want answers—and it takes time to get those answers.”
The one public statement the sheriff’s department has made was the announcement that it partnered with New York State Crime Stoppers to offer up to $2,500 to anyone who could give a tip that would help break the case.
“My church has done the same thing to match theirs,” explained Amos Malone. “We raised the money through the ministry because no one is getting answers and the family needs closure.
Amos Malone said that the church attempted to call Crime Stoppers in order to arrange for the match donation to the reward, but no one answered the phone. “I thought it was unusual myself because if it’s that type of tip line, you would think someone would answer,” he said. (This reporter called Crime Stoppers on a weekday afternoon and got a representative on the line on the first try.)
Chief Retired Robert L. Pazone, chairman of the board for New York State Crime Stoppers, said the reason why the award is for “up to $2,500” is that the amount given for a tip depends on the usefulness of the information. Crime Stoppers works with the law enforcement agency involved to determine what the reward should be, Pazone explained.
He said it is important for people to know that although there is a potential reward involved, calls to Crime Stoppers still remain anonymous. There is absolutely no way for the organization to track the source of the information except for a code that is given to the person leaving the tip.
“The call center is located in Canada, so we’re immune to subpoena,” Pazone said, adding that concerns about having to appear in court often prevent people from reporting what they know. The promise of anonymity is the most valuable aspect of Crime Stoppers, he said.
If a tip is deemed reward-worthy, it is up to the person who gave the information to call in, find out the adjudication of the case, and if their information is credible, they are given a secret ID and paid in cash.
Even though the church has not officially matched the reward through Crime Stoppers, it is prepared to give the same amount as Crime Stoppers in the event a reward is offered, said Amos Malone. Information about the reward is included on the GoFundMe page that was created by friends and families to cover the funeral and other expenses to help the Malone and Gandy families “cope with this unexpected loss.” So far, the campaign has raised $12,553, contributed by 200 donors. The goal is $25,000.
Family members say there are a lot of rumors flying around on social media regarding what exactly happened in the early morning of Dec. 7.
“A lot of people are talking, but you don’t hear a lot from the authorities,” said Malone. “You always hope that people will do the right thing. It’s human nature that they would empathize in some way with us.”
“We’re definitely missing him—missing his light,” Tanisha Malone said. “He was a beautiful soul. And he still is a beautiful soul. You just miss his presence.”
Anyone with information on the shooting incident that claimed the life of DeJour Gandy is asked to call the Tompkins County Emergency Response Center at (607) 273-8000. The Sheriff’s Office also maintains a confidential tip line at (607) 266-5420. The New York State Crime Stoppers tip line is (866) 313-8477.