BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Police are thanking the community for stepping up and coming forward to help identify the man they say is responsible for shooting and killing a 14-year-old boy Tuesday afternoon.
Joseph Gant, 28, was arrested around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday and charged with second degree murder and three counts of assault. Authorities say Gant opened fire on a crowd on a footbridge near the Kenfield Langfield housing projects, killing 14-year-old Ray Floyd Patterson III and injuring three other teens. The other teens were treated and released from area hospitals.
Mayor Byron Brown said, “I want to stress that Raymond Patterson III was just an innocent child playing in the street.”
One witness told News 4 she heard 10 shots fired as two teenage girls were fighting each other on the bridge. Police obtained cell phone video shot during the incident and say they initially had an image of the shooter but not a name.
Buffalo Police and Mayor Brown said tips from the community played a large role in their investigation.
“The community was very important in this arrest. They stepped up and came forward with information,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said. “I can’t stress enough how the community really got involved, the community really came forward.”
He added said, “I want to also thank the Buffalo Police homicide squad who virtually, every one of them, was in around the clock for almost 36 hours. Some of them barely slept.”
Brown said the Peacemakers worked around the clock on the case, talking to people in neighborhoods about the shooting.
“As I walked in that neighborhood and our commissioner, deputies and members of the police department and Peacemakers, the community was hurt. The community was angry, and people responded,” the mayor said.
“People did step up,” said Brown. “People did speak up, and that’s why we have this arrest today.”
The investigation is continuing in this case and police want the public to come forward with details.
“This was a 28-year-old adult that fired shots randomly into a crowd of kids,” said Derenda, “and he will pay his price for his actions.”
Gant is being held without bail and has a felony hearing later this month. Police asked the media not to share his photo, as it could taint the identification process in the investigation.
Despite his arrest, there is still apprehension in the neighborhood. A recent spat of shootings has taken its toll on friends and young relatives of the victims.
Pastor Albert Wilson, who works out of the Martha Mitchell Community Center, said children worry that this could happen to them and their friends.
Natika Wilkerson works with children at the center and says “they’re scared to come outside because of all the shooting and killings going on over here.”
Pastor Wilson said counseling is available for anyone needing to talk about the tragic shootings. He also urges parents to take a more proactive approach.
“Go into their dresser drawers, closets, turn over beds to make sure we know what our children are doing,” he said, “and hold them responsible.”