The temperature is rising and so, too, is the bloodshed on Buffalo’s streets.
Three people were killed and another critically wounded early Saturday in three shootings. That raised the week’s homicide toll to five.
The deadly violence has Buffalo Police doubling down on street enforcement and area nonviolence groups pleading for an immediate cease-fire.
“Enough is enough with the gunplay,” said the Rev. James E. Giles of the Buffalo Peacemakers organization. “Put your weapons down. ... Reach out to someone who can help you resolve the issues in a much more peaceful way.”
These would be steps toward stemming the tide of violence that Giles sees as “individual occurrences,” linked to personal disputes over petty matters. Frayed nerves, the unseasonable heat and alcohol also were lethal factors in the shootings, Giles added.
“The heat’s been agonizing. It’s got a lot of people on edge,” Giles said. “Everybody is outside. People are drinking. There’s a lot of activity out there.”
The latest homicide victim, a 31-year-old Buffalo man, was shot just after 3 a.m. Saturday in the first block of Kilhoffer Street, according to Buffalo police. He died a short time later.
That followed a shooting about 1:45 a.m. that left two men dead in the 500 block of Michigan Avenue. The victims, believed to be in their 30s, were sitting in a vehicle when they were shot, police said.
A 32-year-old Buffalo man was hospitalized in Erie County Medical Center on Saturday after he was critically wounded by gunfire just after 1 a.m. in the 200 block of Coit Street, according to Buffalo police.
None of the victims was identified Saturday.
In a year that saw a decade-low of 19 homicides heading into September, five in just four days last week has people on edge.
At least 10 shootings have been reported in the city since last weekend.
“We’ve had a spike in the last week or so,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said.
“Does the weather have something to do with it? Could be,” Derenda said. “From time to time, you do get spikes. Some of them are over minor issues. Some are gang related.”
Warmer weather often brings increased instances of violence, crime statistics typically show.
In many cities across the country, the murder rate is on the rise, according to the New York Times. Washington, D.C., Baltimore, St. Louis and New Orleans are seeing increases in violence after years of decline, the Times reported last week.
Those increases are happening in cities larger than Buffalo.
Derenda pointed out that overall crime figures in Buffalo are dropping.
The commissioner added that investigators cleared at least four of the recent homicides, have “good leads” in others, and encouraged anyone with information to avail themselves of the city’s confidential tip line at 847-2255. Buffalo police Saturday night also asked for the public’s help in locating Luis Oliveras Arvelo, described only as a person of interest in a recent shooting.
Here is a look at other fatal and nonfatal shootings dating to Aug. 29:
• Two men were shot at Hickory and South Division streets, one in the back and one in the leg, at about 8 p.m. Aug. 29.
• Timothy Goodwin, 28, of Buffalo, was killed last Sunday night in a shooting at Crossman Avenue and Heminway Street. On Thursday, Buffalo police announced the arrest of Rashawn Austin, 18, of Buffalo, who was charged with second-degree murder.
• Two 19-year-old men were shot in a vehicle on the 1600 block of Hertel Avenue, near Parkside Avenue, just before 2 a.m. Tuesday. The shots came from another vehicle, police said. One of the victims, Olajuwan Davis, was released from the hospital hours after the shooting. Ariel Eyoto, the other victim, was listed in fair condition Friday in ECMC.
• Juan Ortiz Santiago, 28, was fatally shot about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday outside a barbershop in the 500 block of Niagara Street.
• Damon Hall, 25, of the Town of Tonawanda, was shot and killed as he emerged from Trendz, a Broadway clothing store, about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. Hall was mentioned as a possible suspect in last Sunday’s shooting death of Anthony L. Stallworth, 34, in the Sheridan Parkside neighborhood of the Town of Tonawanda.
• Just after 11 p.m. Tuesday, Jesus Santana, 29, was shot at Whitney Place and Maryland Street.
• A male was shot in the 400 block of Woodlawn Avenue about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Police did not identify the victim.
Derenda said extra officers are patrolling the streets over the holiday weekend – as they do on all holiday weekends.
“There’s a full-court press on right now toward ending this violence and putting people in jail,” Derenda said.
Meanwhile, a Labor Day push for peace will take place at Martin Luther King Jr. Park,, according to Victoria B. Ross, interim executive director of the Western New York Peace Center.
The Peace & Nonviolence Festival and Walk, which is organized by the Peace Center and more than 80 other groups, including the Stop the Violence Coalition and Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. The Peace Walk to End the Violence will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Of the recent uptick in violence, Ross said: “It makes us all the more eager to hold the event.”
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