Community leaders ask for help to curb Buffalo’s violence

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Community leaders on the front lines of the violence in Buffalo are calling for peace.

There have been at least six shootings in the past 11 days. Two men have been killed by the violence.

Homicide detectives were called to Dodge Street late Saturday night after 44 year old Lonnie Anthony, from Cheektowaga, was killed while sitting in a car. It happened on the 100 block, according to police.

Buffalo Police responded to a shooting on East Ferry St. on Saturday morning.

On Friday, detectives were called to a drive-by on Edison Ave.

Two days before that, on Wednesday, 25 year old Michael Herrera was killed during a drive-by shooting on Strauss St.

“First and foremost our condolences go out to the families,” said Leonard Lane, president of the Buffalo Father’s Group. “The violence has to stop and it has to stop now.”

He and leaders of Buffalo Peacemakers, Stop the Violence Coalition, and SNUG are on the streets everyday talking to young men involved in the violence.

They work in the neighborhoods to diffuse conflict before it boils over.

“Eighty-five percent of the action around shootings taking place in Buffalo since January has been directly, or indirectly, related to robberies or one person taking something from another person,” said Pastor James Giles, the coordinator for Buffalo Peacemakers.

 

Giles said that these young men may be part of gang culture but these shootings are not the result tension between gangs.

“Individuals that have been targeted are based upon either they’re selling drugs or they might be pushing drugs or have something valuable,” said Giles. “Sometimes older cats will send younger cats, put a gun in their hand, yo go hit this guy’.”

He told News 4 boys as young as 14 or 15 are getting involved.

“We hear about gunfire all day long,” said Murray Holman, the executive director of Stop the Violence.

Holman told News 4 these young men are shooting without hesitation.

“I was just on Zelmer St. and Block St. for the last two days, gunfire shooting at the house,” said Holman. “Young men shooting at homes with elderly people living there trying to get at a young men.”

He said the grandmother living in the home that was targeted is shaken up and considering moving.

Holman told News 4 the violence isn’t isolated to Buffalo’s East Side. He said they are getting calls to respond to all areas of the city.

They’re working non-stop with these young men to diffuse bad situations.

SNUG is trying to stop retaliation but the program manager said it will take a community effort to curb the violence.

“Not just us, not just the handful of people we’ve got on the streets risking their lives every day to do this work,” said Billie Webster, the SNUG program manager.  “I don’t care what color you are, what part of town you are from, if you’re from Cheektowaga or Buffalo. It takes all of us to come together and say enough is enough.”

They are asking community stakeholders to contribute to Back to Basics Outreach Ministries so they can put more boots on the ground.

According to the Buffalo Police website, there have been 17 homicides in the city in 2017. Only one of the shootings has been solved.

If you have any information all the confidential tip line at 847-2255.

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