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Coalition looks into motives in stabbing

A community organization that seeks to halt violence is looking into whether the fatal stabbing Thursday of 16-year-old Daijohn Johnson was motivated by cultural differences in a West Side neighborhood.

"This appears to be an ethnic rivalry," said Arlee Daniels Jr., chairman of the Stop Violence Coalition.

He said there has been friction among disillusioned immigrant families from Africa moving into neighborhoods that have long been the home of Hispanics and other ethnic groups.

Police said they do not have a motive for the stabbing, other than it involved a fight among as many as 20 people at about 8 p.m. in the 300 block of Vermont Street, between 16th Street and Lowell Place.

After Johnson was stabbed, he was rushed to Buffalo General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said homicide detectives are continuing to work the case and would appreciate any information from witnesses.

Richards acknowledged that the area where the killing occurred "is a culturally diverse neighborhood, and there is an influx of immigrants."

Asked if race or ethnic backgrounds played a role in the homicide, the chief said, "We are certainly investigating all possible motives."

Daniels said his organization was asked to visit the neighborhood to try to promote harmony.

He says that when immigrants arrive here, they soon become disillusioned in their efforts to make a better life for themselves, and the young people sometimes turn to violence.

" The neighborhood is saturated with drugs, guns, gangs and poverty. And especially younger immigrants who are coming from Africa, the young men, are adapting to gangs and drugs," Daniels said.

The coalition's Project Safe Neighborhood Initiative, he added, is going to attempt to promote peace among the different groups by trying to overcome "the lack of understanding about each others' cultures."

Johnson's homicide was the 27th this year and the second this week. Helyna Rivera, 25, was fatally shot Wednesday night on Virginia Street. Her estranged partner, Uda Hidalgo, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Richards said anyone with information on the stabbing can call or text the confidential Buffalo Police Department tip line at 847-2255.

Police also are investigating the discovery Friday of a female body in a house on Fulton Street in the Perry projects. Further information on this case was unavailable Friday night.