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‘He lost his way’: 19-year-old arraigned on 2 murder, 17 violent felony charges

The case of Diamond “Face” Lewis shows how much crime can be laid at the feet of a few individuals, Mayor Byron W. Brown said Tuesday morning after the 19-year-old was arraigned on two murder charges and 17 other violent felony counts – including six other shootings.

In light of the severity of the crimes, and considering that Lewis allegedly was heard in a jail telephone call saying he would flee the area if freed, State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang ordered that he be held without bail.

“This case is a real indicator that one individual can be responsible for a great deal of crime in this city,” Brown said at a joint news conference with acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. after the arraignment. He also described Lewis as an “incredibly violent, incredibly dangerous individual,” partly evidenced by the fact that Lewis has been shot more than once himself.

Flaherty said that Lewis’ arrest was important for the safety of the Keystone neighborhood on the far East Side.

Masten Council Member Ulysees Wingo echoed that. He said Tuesday that the number of shootings in his district had many people upset.

“The fact that this was all done by one individual – that’s quite much to take in,” Wingo said.

“He lost his way and went on to commit heinous crimes and become a menace to society,” Wingo added.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said Lewis had been on the department’s radar “for quite some time” while investigators connected the dots to link him to the string of shootings. He said they have solid evidence to prosecute Lewis in the four shootings and believe he could be responsible for many others. The commissioner urged anyone with information about Lewis’ violent activity, or that of his associates, to call the department’s confidential TIPCALL line at 847-2255.

Derenda said police believe at least some shootings were related to gang activity.

Lewis’ most serious prior arrest was more than two years ago. In February 2014, when he was 17, Lewis pleaded guilty to charges of weapons possession and attempted first-degree robbery for a 2013 arrest when he was carrying a loaded 9mm Luger pistol and 10 more rounds of ammunition.

Because of his age, Lewis was granted youthful-offender status in that case, sealing his record.

In August 2014, Lewis was found to have a stolen state benefit card and a bag of marijuana.

Two months later, Lewis allegedly shot and killed David Skipper Jr.

In April 2015, Lewis was arrested on a gun charge, but, Derenda said, “He was out again by June 6, when he shot five people. You see this again and again. We arrest them and they get bailed out.”

If convicted, Lewis faces possible maximum prison sentences of 25 years to life on each of the murder counts and another 200 years in prison on the remaining charges.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com and msommer@buffnews