BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local officials provided an update Monday afternoon, regarding Saturday’s mass shooting in Buffalo.
Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia confirmed the alleged shooter was in Buffalo in early March of this year. He also said the investigation into the shooting will be very lengthy and the scene is still being processed, adding that warrants have already been obtained an executed.
Additionally, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn confirmed that the mental health aspect of the case is “off the table” after the defense attorney for the accused shooter withdrew a request for evaluation within 24 hours of making the request. Flynn also said the judge did not feel the need to request a mental health evaluation prior to Thursday’s felony hearing.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said according to the medical examiners, autopsies on the victims will be completed by the end of day Wednesday.
Mayor Byron Brown addressed recent social media posts threatening violence at other locations, saying the Buffalo Police Department will prosecute if necessary, and has already made arrests.
County DA John Flynn
DA Flynn was critical of bail policy regarding recent alleged threats at a local pizzeria and brewery, as he said the man accused of making these threats will be released following a mental health evaluation.
It was a D felony, and under the New York State bail laws, we can hold someone overnight for a D felony, which we did — we held him overnight and we arraigned him this morning on a D felony, making a terrorist threat. Facing up to seven years in jail. What’s ironic is that this is a non-bailable qualifying offense. He’s being held pending a forensic, but once that forensic is over, he has to walk free. That’s something else we’ve got to tweak in the bail laws right there.”District Attorney John Flynn
Flynn issued a message to anyone considering making similar threats as well.
“This is what’s going to happen if you make threats: You are going to get arrested and then I’m going to prosecute you,” he said. “So let this case send a message out there to any tough guy or anyone who wants to be cute out there…”
County Legislator April Baskin
Legislator Baskin discussed how community leaders came together to provide food and mental health resources for those in the area, and spoke to the trauma the Black community is facing after the racist attack.
They’re traumatized. They are literally traumatized and it is irreversible trauma that has happened to our community for no other reason than the skin that they have been born in. It is so disappointing to hear our district attorney speak of copycats or people who are making light of this issue that has forever changed the lives, broken the lives, broken hearts of innocent people for no more reason than the color of their skin. I believe that we have people, not just agitators from outside Erie County, but people within Erie County, too — we have to be honest here — that are far too comfortable with doing heinous acts of terror based on race and white supremacy. And we have to shift their comfort levels immediately. We cannot stand for it any longer.”Erie County Legislator April Baskin
Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes
Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes spoke on the pain in the Buffalo community and the need for justice.
I want to commend law enforcement, who are collectively working with the mayor and his team, to do exactly what should happen, and that is make sure that justice prevails. I will remind you all though, that, as an African-American, there are a lot of people in this community who are hurting because they know that ‘justice for all’ is not specific enough. Sometimes people get left out of that justice. This can’t happen this time. It can’t happen this time. I understand, just like the guy who called in the threats to the pizzeria and to the beer establishment, you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty, but this young man was walking around with a camera on his head. He showed the whole world what he was doing. And I under stand you’ve got to go through a court, I get that, but a lot of the anger that people are having — aside from the fact that their loved ones have been murdered for going to the supermarket — is that justice is not specific enough. This can’t be another one of those cases.Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia
“[The suspect] was shot at multiple times by Officer [Aaron] Salter, a retired police officer, shot at him multiple times and was on-target with at least one of those rounds,” Commissioner Gramaglia said. “[The suspect] had heavy plated armor on, he had a tactical helmet on. When our on-duty officers arrived on scene — I watched the video myself — he put that rifle up under his chin as the officers were coming in, and then he surrendered that rifle.”
The commissioner later commended his officers on their handling of the situation.
“While that individual was in that vestibule, because of the body armor that he had on, he could’ve easly have retreated back into that store, where there were dozens of other customers — in that store, fleeing for their lives,” he said. “I am absolutely beyond proud of how our police officers handled themselves by taking that individual into custody.”
City Council President Darius Pridgen
City of Good Neighbors
“People have arrived, from not just Western New York, but from across the country,” Pridgen said. “People have come into our churches, people have offered help, people have stood up — and let me be clear — it’s not enough to send money if we don’t stand up against racism, if we don’t stand up against those who feel that white supremacy as a system, is okay.”
Pridgen said he’s been encouraging people to tell the truth — “that this is not the only racist and not the only white supremacist believer in our country.”
He said he’s also encouraged them to have uncomfortable conversations at home and work, lose some friends who disagree, and after checking in others, stand up and acknowledge that what happened in Buffalo should not be tolerated in any country.
County Sheriff John Garcia
Sheriff Garcia provided a status update on the accused shooter.
“In regards to incarcerated individual 157103, he continues to be in our custody, he continues to be on suicide watch, which means he’s in a cloth smock, which is ligature-proof, with a blanket which is ligature-proof,” Sheriff Garcia said. “He’s in a segregated unit aside from the rest of the general population, and that’s for his safety.”
County Executive Mark Poloncarz
The county executive reminded the community of resources in the community, a food desert, and provided the Crisis Services 24-hour phone number, (716) 834-3131, for anyone in crisis over the situation.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Belongia
Agent Belongia said the FBI is working as quickly as possible to process the scene, so it can be released back to community, which relies on it so much. He also said authorities have to take time to be meticulous in their investigation for the victims. “It’s what they deserve.”
Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas
Former Bills running back Thurman Thomas and his wife, Patti, were also at the press conference. The Thurman Thomas Family Foundation pledged a large donation to benefit the victims’ families and surrounding community. Patti Thomas said donations have already reached over $100,000.
I’m a little emotional right now, really, I am. I’m hurting for the city that I love, I’m hurting for the East Side, their families, our friends and our community. You read about stuff happening in other states, but when it’s right here at home, it’s tough. And this is a time when we really need to come together, we really, really do. And I just appreciate everybody here in Buffalo that has treated me like I was one of your own. For Mayor [Brown] to have me down here, to be a part of this, is something special, but we’re going to continue as a family, as a foundation, to do everything we possibly can to make this better — to make this right.Thurman Thomas
“Buffalo is a City of Good Neighbors, but hate exists everywhere and we have to come together,” Patti Thomas added. “We have to come together — and let Buffalo be a beacon of how that can happen — let us set an example on how people can come together.”
The full press conference can be viewed in the video player above.