Share this article

print logo

Bar fight in downtown Buffalo escalates into melee involving more than 150 people

The fight started inside a West Chippewa Street bar in downtown Buffalo at about 3 a.m. Monday.

It quickly escalated as more than 150 people spilled outside and brutally attacked one another.

Then gunfire broke out near the intersection of West Chippewa and Delaware Avenue, according to police.

When it ended, one man was arrested and another was admitted to the trauma intensive care unit at Erie County Medical Center, Central District Police Chief Joseph A. Gramaglia said.

“A couple shell casings were recovered, but no one was wounded by gunfire,” Gramaglia said at a news conference Monday afternoon in Niagara Square. “We have extensive surveillance videos, and district detectives are working on the case with the State Liquor Authority and the city Licensing Bureau.”

One of the videos shows swarms of young people kicking and punching one another and two of them repeatedly stomping on the head of a man lying on the ground, authorities said.

Investigators believe that it started with “some opposing individuals that sparked it and it turned into something much larger,” Gramaglia said.

The brawl involved young people attending a party in the Lodge Bar & Grill at 79 W. Chippewa that was sponsored by a promoter and dubbed “Whiteout Night” because everyone who attended was required to wear a white T-shirt.

“The promoter runs security, but you would have needed an army to provide enough security for the size of that crowd,” a police source said.

Promoted parties entail businessmen who approach bar owners and work out an arrangement to hold a party on a slow night or when the bar might normally be closed, Gramaglia explained.

The promoter makes money by keeping the cover charge for admission to the party, and the bar owner makes money off drink sales, police said.

Stressing that the Chippewa Entertainment District is safe for patrons, the chief said that there is strong police presence on weekend nights but that on Sundays, when some establishments are closed, the same level of policing is usually not required.

“We have a Chippewa detail every Friday and Saturday night with officers out on foot patrols,” Gramaglia said.

The man arrested was identified as Keenon Fitzgerald, 25, of Buffalo. He was charged with multiple counts of disorderly conduct, harassment, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

Police did not release the name of the injured man.

At a news conference about the incident, Gramaglia urged business owners and private individuals with security cameras to register for the department’s “Buffalo SafeCam” program. The registry allows police to quickly locate cameras in neighborhoods where a crime has occurred, rather than having to search out the locations of cameras.

No personal information on the owners of the cameras is released. To register, go to www.bpdny.org/Home/Services/SafeCam.

email: lmichel@buffnews.com