LOCKPORT – Shannon L. Lightfoot, described by his attorneys as intelligent and charismatic, and by a Niagara Falls police detective as one of the city’s most dangerous criminals, was sentenced last week to four years in prison for a pair of shootings.
Lightfoot, 28, of Garden Avenue, received a plea to second-degree assault for a double shooting after the victims refused to testify at his trial. Niagara County Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said that the mother of one victim was scheduled to speak at Thursday’s sentencing, but she didn’t show up, either.
In the other case, a drive-by shooting, Lightfoot ended up pleading guilty to first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a felony. County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III had agreed to concurrent sentencing.
Lightfoot originally was indicted on two counts of attempted murder in connection with a May 30, 2015, incident in which police accused him of firing 27 shots from what might have been an assault rifle, wounding two men in the 1900 block of Niagara Street in the Falls. He twice rejected a plea offer with a 15-year sentencing limit but came out with a better deal when the victims balked at going to court.
Murphy attributed the plea to “gaps in the prosecution’s case, not for any lack of effort on their part.” He lamented “people who are unwilling or afraid to cooperate with law enforcement, which is a shame.”
Lightfoot’s plea on unlicensed driving was entered the day he was supposed to have gone to trial in connection with a drive-by shooting May 18, 2015, in the 2700 block of Highland Avenue in the Falls. A man was shot in the torso.
Defense attorney Frank LoTempio III, who handled the case of the May 30 double shooting, called it “a feud between these two factions; I don’t want to say gangs. … I’ve never had to live through it, but Shannon has. Niagara Falls is a tough, tough area.”
Murphy quoted a statement in a presentencing report by Detective Troy W. Earp, who said that in 11 years as a police officer, “Shannon Lightfoot is one of the most dangerous individuals I have ever encountered. His quiet and polite demeanor will continue to conceal what he is capable of doing to people.”
LoTempio, asked by Murphy to comment, said, “Shannon’s a very charismatic individual.”
Assistant Public Defender Charles F. Pitarresi, who handled the drive-by shooting case, called Lightfoot “a quite intelligent young, a talented young man.” He said Lightfoot had training in bricklaying and welding.
“He does have the ability to rebuild and put himself to work. He has plans to relocate to another area, not Niagara Falls,” Pitarresi said.
Lightfoot said, “I’m not a dangerous person. The way I speak, the way I act is genuine. I’m not trying to fool anyone.”
LoTempio told Murphy, “It was very telling what he said to me today: ‘At some point, this has to end.’ … Maybe he’s a victim of his circumstances.”
Murphy told Lightfoot, “Well, you’re going to have four years in state prison to think about it.” He urged Lightfoot to think about the lives of men who espoused nonviolence such as Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.