AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)- University Plaza is the place to go for groceries or a bite to eat for UB students, but many of them said they don’t always feel safe there.
Following a double shooting outside the Habibi Sheesha Lounge over the weekend, Common Council Member Rasheed Wyatt told News 4 it’s about time safety concerns are addressed.
Wyatt oversees the city’s University District, which borders the University Plaza.
“The shooting really kind of highlighted the issues. And although it is Amherst, the Buffalo Police are working with the Amherst Police to resolve this,” he said.
According to witnesses, an altercation began inside the Habibi Sheesha Lounge around two Sunday morning.
When the people involved went out into the plaza parking lot, the witnesses said someone began shooting. An 18 and 19-year-old from Buffalo were shot, one of them remains in the hospital.
The lounge is open until 6 a.m. Sunday. Wyatt said that’s a concern for area residents and business owners in his district.
UB students told News 4 the lounge is a popular place to hang out, and there’s not normally trouble there.
“I’m still kind of in shock a little bit that, that happened,” said UB student Olivia Swann.
“It’s usually a really chill atmosphere,” said another student, Andy Chen.
A second Habibi Sheesha Lounge, on Elmwood Avenue, was ordered shut down by Buffalo Police last year when shots were reportedly fired there.
“I’m very concerned. I hope that we can address it with the Amherst folks to maybe have some additional conditions, or some additional oversight something, because I don’t want it to get out of hand. This particular owner does seem to carry the same type of issues from one location to another,” Wyatt said.
But there’s another problem he feels needs attention; panhandling in the plaza.
He’s been working with Amherst leaders and University officials, who tell him students are regularly solicited.
“There’s usually at least one or two solicitors trying to ask for money, or money to buy a soda, bus ticket,” Chen told News 4.
Many students and employees in the plaza said it’s been an ongoing problem.
“This is an opportunity hopefully to address a broader issue,” Wyatt said.
He wants to to see increased collaboration between businesses and law enforcement in Buffalo and Amherst to help address this.
News 4 reached out to the owner of the Habibi Sheesha Lounge and have not heard back yet.
Amherst Police are still investigating that shooting, and told News 4 while they cannot shut down the business, they would support efforts to do so.