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Anchor Bar shooting Friday night leaves 1 dead, 1 injured

The Anchor Bar will be closed Saturday and resume business at noon Sunday following a shooting Friday night that left one man dead, another wounded and temporarily closed the popular restaurant, bar management said in a prepared statement.

Both victims were restaurant employees but their identities were not released. Police said the man who was fatally shot was 32 and the wounded victim, 36. The shooter was still at large, said police, who provided no further details Saturday morning.

During a news conference Friday night outside the Main Street bar after the shooting, Capt. Joseph Gramaglia of the Buffalo Police Homicide Squad said the restaurant, which attracts visitors from around the world, was crowded with patrons when the gunman walked into the kitchen.

“It was in the kitchen,” Gramaglia said of the shooting. “So the patrons were – I will say this – not at risk because it occurred inside the kitchen.”

Patrons who heard the shots scrambled to leave the restaurant, including a party from Columbus, Ohio, who stopped at the Anchor Bar after a day trip to Niagara Falls. Unwilling to be identified, members of the group said they watched outside the restaurant as the fatally shot man was placed in an ambulance. Both victims were taken to Erie County Medical Center, where the 32-year-old man was pronounced dead. Gramaglia described the wounds of the second victim as non-life threatening. He was grazed by a round of ricochet bullets, Gramaglia said.

Patrick Navarrete, who was visiting from Chino, Calif., with his family, said they were driving on Main Street when they saw the shooter chasing after the wounded victim – first headed toward a store on the southeast corner of Main and East North, then toward Ellicott Street.

“The guy was running for his life,” Navarrete said of the wounded man. “We were in the car, passing by and that’s when we stopped and witnessed everything.”

The gunman, he said, “was wearing jeans with what, I believe, was a black shirt and what looked to me like a T-shirt or bandana over his head and with the eyes cut.”

Police provided few details about the shooting, other than to say that it was confined to the restaurant kitchen. However, Gramaglia said police have video from inside the restaurant.

“We are evaluating video. We will be getting that out at some point in the very near future,” he said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown on Friday said he spoke with the owners of the Anchor Bar – who were in the restaurant at the time of the shooting – and assured them that police were using all of their expertise and resources to capture the shooter.

“I let them know that we have a very good police department and that they are already working hard on it, and they would expend all the resources at their disposal to try to find the individual responsible for this shooting,” Brown said.

The Anchor Bar is known internationally as the home of the Buffalo chicken wing.

“People come to eat there from across the country and across the globe,” said Brown. “But more so than being upset by that, they were upset by what happened to their employee.”

The mayor also emphasized that the shooting was not random.

“I just want to underscore what I have been briefed on by police is that this was a very targeted incident. This was not random at all,” Brown said.

Police believe only one of the victims was intentionally targeted by the shooter, Gramaglia said.

A statement on behalf of the Anchor Bar was released early Saturday afternoon, stating: “First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the Anchor Bar employees, one who was fatally wounded and the other who was wounded yesterday evening.

“We would like to thank the BPD and emergency medical personnel for their quick response. We will continue to do everything we can to help with this investigation.

“We will not allow this act of senseless violence to keep us from serving the good people of this city, and will resume operations (Sunday) at 12 p.m. We thank the Buffalo community for your unwavering support.”

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com