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Street crime devastates family; one son slain, the other blinded

A family that already knows the pain of street violence felt it again two weeks ago.

A gunman killed 16-year-old Lewis Brewer in a vacant lot near Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

That makes twice in five months gunfire has shattered his Buffalo family.

On the night of Aug. 25, Lewis's brother 8-year-old brother — Donnell "Donny" Bibbes — was shot in the head. The bullet meant for someone else robbed the child of his eyesight, though a family friend says he still finds reasons to smile.

"It's just too much for one family," said Sonia Redmond, who considered herself a second mother to Lewis and adores Donnell.

Both shootings remain unsolved.

As Donnell Bibbes, 8, struggles to recover, Black Lives Matter activists seek gunman’s identity

The Rev. Darius G. Pridgen recalled the agony the family suffered last summer when Donnell was critically wounded.

"I stood at his hospital bedside with his mother, and I could hear the devastation in her voice," Pridgen said. "She's a mother trying to do the best she can for her children. It is devastating to have two tragedies like this in same family."

Lewis's father recalled his son as an innocent victim.

"He's never caused any trouble," the father said of the Riverside High School student.

In the shooting last summer  that seriously wounded Donnell, authorities said an older brother, Davieon White, 19, was the intended target.

Both shootings appear to be gang-related, police say, though Lewis's father insists his son had nothing to do with gang life.

"He was a student at Riverside and he was never arrested," the father said. "My son's a homicide victim. He was gunned down."

At about 6 p.m. Jan. 25, Lewis, Davieon and two companions were in a store near the first block of French Street. Moments after they left, a gunman fatally shot Brewer in a vacant lot on French.

The others ran from the shooter, said police, who are trying to determine if there is a connection between that shooting and the Aug. 25 shooting.

"The two have nothing to do with each other," said the father, who declined to give his name during a telephone interview.

A second boy struck by violence leaves a city grieving

Redmond says she worries more violence could strike the family.

"I'm afraid for them," said Redmond, who for years lived a few doors from Chawniqua Johnson and her sons at the Kenfield-Langfield housing projects before the family moved a few months ago.

Last summer, Johnson had driven her sons Donnell, Davieon and Raheem White to the 400 block of South Division Street to visit a relative at around 10 p.m. After she parked the car, a gunman fired about 15 bullets at the vehicle, police said, striking Donnell in the head. Brewer was not with the family when that shooting happened.

Redmond said Lewis's death broke her heart.

"His nickname was Luigi, and I saw him Tuesday, the day before he was killed," she said. "He was walking with his head down. I'd just gotten off the bus and went up to him and told him, 'Lift up your head.' He looked up at me and smiled. He was a good brother. He never gave anyone any problems. He just wanted to stay out of trouble and finish high school."

While the family has moved to another section of the city, Redmond said she recently talked to them, including Donnell, who has been released from Women & Children's Hospital.

"He's blind, but he's still cheerful and smiles," Redmond said. "He's still the same old Donny."

Pridgen said the Jan. 25 shooting happened in the same neighborhood where he and his congregation at True Bethel Baptist Church are trying to build a safe community.

That work includes concentrating on education for young people, employment and police enforcement, he said.

"I feel like a scratched record that repeats itself over and over, but I'm going to keep saying it: The more we concentrate on education, the greater employment will be and there will be less need for law enforcement," Pridgen said.

"We've been doing everything in our power to rebuild this community, and when someone feels comfortable enough to shoot a child in an area where other children play, it shows how much more work there is to be done."

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