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Two arrested in Buffalo’s last homicide of 2014

A Cheektowaga man and a Buffalo man have been arrested in Buffalo’s final homicide of 2014, a year that saw 62 slayings in the city.

Deshawn L. Harris, 26, of Cheektowaga, was charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Denell Baker.

Jordan A. Hicks, 25, of Buffalo, was charged with first-degree hindering of prosecution.

Baker, 28, was found fatally shot in the back seat of a car on Peach Street on Dec. 28. Previously in 2014, he was shot and wounded three other times – once in May, again in November and in early December, but police said he refused to cooperate when asked about those who attacked him.

Baker also was identified as the person who fatally shot John Wesley, 32, on Oct. 29 on Wende Street, but he was killed before he could be charged in the case.

In announcing the arrests, Mayor Byron W. Brown and Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda pointed out that since the beginning of 2015, homicide detectives have solved six cold cases from last year and other years. They also pointed out that arrests have been made in three of the city’s four homicides this year.

“These arrests clearly demonstrate that when it comes to violent crimes and particularly homicides, we never stop looking for those responsible,” Brown said in commending members of the police department. “We will not tolerate crime that threatens the public safety in our city.”

Derenda added that solving cold cases remains a priority and that the public can expect more cases to be solved soon.

“Our investigators continue to work hard on these cases and more cold cases are expected to be cleared in the coming days, weeks and months ahead,” Derenda said.

At the end of last year, 14 of the city’s 62 homicides had been cleared. Four of the six cold cases solved this year are homicides from 2014 and the other two are from previous years. These six cases will be included in the city’s homicide solvability rate for 2015, the year in which they were cleared.

In the Baker homicide, Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said assistance was provided by the Erie Crime Analysis Center and the police department’s Video Surveillance Unit.

“The center’s expertise in technical assistance in the events that took place prior to and after the Peach Street slaying played an important role,” Richards said.

Homicide Detective Sgt. Carl A. Lundin and Detectives Timothy Salamone and Scott R. Malec also were cited for their work in identifying and arresting Harris and Hicks.