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Suspect charged with second-degreee murder in brutal Lackawanna stabbing

A Buffalo man allegedly broke into the Johnson Street home of his brother’s ex-girlfriend through a porch window early Tuesday, then stabbed a man 22 times in the house, killing him, family members of the victim said Wednesday.

The suspect, Christian D. Gillie, 20, of Deerfield Avenue was arrested and charged with second-degree murder Wednesday in the killing, police and prosecutors said.

The victim, Robert J. Wheeler, 23, was asleep in a bedroom with his 4-year-old nephew when Gillie allegedly broke into the house. Gillie went upstairs and found Wheeler in the bedroom, stabbing him repeatedly.

Gillie fled and Wheeler went to his mother’s bedroom, to tell her he had been stabbed.

Leisa Raditic Wheeler, Wheeler’s mother, had slept through the commotion because the air-conditioning was running, said Sandra Kaminski, a friend of the family.

“Once she saw what was happening she pushed him down to a chair, put pressure on his wounds and ran to call 911,” Kaminski said. “She was with him when the firefighters arrived.

Lackawanna police on Tuesday found Gillie injured and with a knife behind Global Concepts Charter High School, Kaminski said.

Gillie was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he was treated and placed under arrest a short time later. He was arraigned Wednesday in the hospital, said Capt. Robert Janowski.

Wheeler’s sister, Amanda Wheeler, is the mother of the 4-year-old and also lives at the Johnson Street home. She was not at home at the time of the attack.

Neighbors said Amanda Wheeler was often seen outside playing and walking with her young son.

“She’s out all the time with him,” said one woman, who asked not to be identified. “She is a good mother.”

Neighbors identified the murder suspect as the little boy’s uncle. They believe Wheeler may have been shielding the young child from the knife attack.

“It’s a tragedy that such a young life was taken,” said another woman whose daughter lives at the end of Johnson Street.

Wheeler graduated from Lackawanna High School and had recently received his license to sell insurance, said Kaminski. He was due to start a job on Tuesday.

In addition to his mother and sister, Wheeler is survived by a twin sister, Rebecca; another sister, Megan; and grandparents James and Joanne Raditic.

Wheeler’s late father, Gene Wheeler, was a Lackawanna police officer. James Raditic, Wheeler’s grandfather, also served with the Lackawanna police department, Janowski confirmed.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Stephen’s Serbian Orthodox Church, 177 Weber Road, Lackawanna.

A GoFundMe account was set up for funeral expenses.

News Staff Reporters Matt Gryta and Melinda Miller contributed to this report. email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com

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