Family Believes Homicide Victim Targeted After Witnessing Murder

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 2, 2013 at 11:33 PM EDT

By Allen Leight
By Rachel Elzufon

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 2, 2013 at 11:33 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The victim of one of Buffalo's most recent homicide claims he was murdered to keep him silent.

51-year-old William Blackmon, known to most as Popeye, was shot in the head last week -- right before he was scheduled to testify in a homicide case.

An outraged community is now speaking out. Family members gathered outside of the corner store that Blackmon was leaving, when he was shot in the head and died. His family, friends and community leaders met in the alley where Blackmon collapsed to call for an end of violence and begging those with information to step forward.

Family and community members cried out for healing at the vigil. William Blackmon's family laid him to rest just hours earlier.

"we cannot keep going through these types of things every week," said Murray Holman, with the Stop the Violence Coalition. "Enough is enough!"

A sea of red flooded the alleyway where Blackmon died, honoring his memory with a prayer service and candlelight vigil. Loved ones called for the community to stand-up and be heard, and to take back their neighborhood.

"If anyone of you guys come forward or know anything about what happened to my brother, you all can get protection. But don't be quiet. Don't be quiet. Popeye wouldn't have been quiet," said Kimberly Blackmon, Popeye's sister.

Kimberly and other family members say they believe Blackmon was murdered because he witnessed a homicide at an apartment building on Stevens Street in 2012. Black was friends with the victim, and made sure everyone knew who was responsible.

"My brother had the guts to stand-up and say, I'll tell what happened," Kimberly said.

Blackmon was set to testify against the man charged in that murder. The trial was scheduled to begin on June 14th. He will not have that chance to testify, but his loved ones hope others will follow his lead.

"I pray that someone will have that same bravery for him," Kimberly said.

Community leaders say the culture of violence needs to be broken in order to bring change, and that Blackmon's legacy of courage stands as an example.

"Listen, because we have each other and because we have God, it is guaranteed to happen," said Pastor James Giles, with Back to Basic Outreach, "and we're going to turn it around."

Anyone with information on Blackmon's murder can call the Buffalo Police's confidential tip line: 716-847-2255.