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Shooter of Buffalo shopkeeper gets maximum of 25 years to life in prison

A man who shot a Buffalo shopkeeper while trying to rob his East Side sneaker store was sentenced Tuesday to the maximum of 25 years to life in prison.

Keith McDonald, 27, had been found guilty in April of attempted first-degree murder in the March 21, 2014, shooting of Shiaw Ye Pai, a 59-year-old Taiwanese immigrant who ran the Sneakertown store in a Jefferson Avenue plaza.

Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio cited the chilling store security video that captured the crime and the victim’s compelling letter of how the attack has changed his life in explaining the sentence.

Pai started his message to the court by writing, “This was like any other day at first.” He and his wife were at work when a masked man came in carrying a rifle.

“I tried to push him out, to protect the people, the kids and my wife in the store,” Pai wrote. “I thought my wife would be the first target, she was there as cashier.”

McDonald fired one shot at point-blank range into Pai’s arm and chest and fled.

Pai wrote, “I heard (my wife) scream and calling my name. I was in so much pain. … I felt cold.”

When he awoke in the hospital four days later, he wrote, he could not believe he was alive. But with the gunman still at large, Pai’s family continued to live in fear. Even now, he wrote to the judge, his wife will not go out alone. She is too afraid to work, Pai wrote, and he cannot work because of his injuries. He said he suffers from nerve damage and continuing pain in his abdomen. The couple now live with their daughter.

And the events of the most horrible day of their lives continue to haunt them, Pai wrote: “When I go to bed and close my eyes, I can see his eyes because he is so close.”

“We want our lives back,” he added.

And, pointing out that McDonald had held up his store a few months before their final encounter, he also said he hoped that his attacker would be required to find some kind of honest work if he eventually is freed. “Robbing is not a job,” he said.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com