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Fatal Allen Street shooting stuns neighbors

An early morning shooting death outside an Allen Street bar Friday shocked Allentown resident Joseph Pennimpede, but it didn't rattle his sense of the neighborhood being safe.

Pennimpede lives over the Allentown Pizza shop on Elmwood Avenue and Allen Street, just half a block from where a man was shot to death early Friday just steps away from Frizzy's Bar & Grill.

Late Friday, Buffalo Police identified the victim of the shooting as Saleem Merukeb, 37, of Buffalo.

"You see that kind of stuff on the weekend, the occasional police action stuff, but not shootings," Pennimpede said.

Marc S. Frisicaro, the owner of Frizzy's, was caught off guard by the fatal shooting near his business.

Frisicaro said neither the victim nor the person who did the shooting were patrons of his restaurant at the time of the incident. Frisicaro said he received a call from his staff about 1:30 a.m. that there were gunshots heard outside the bar.

Frisicaro, who lives less than a block away, said he rushed to the scene.

The business owner said he "got here and saw somebody down on the ground."

"Police already had the area taped off," Frisicaro said. "I talked to my bouncer and he said that there was an altercation outside between some people, two people. Something switched and it went south and the gentleman said, 'well I'm going to go get my gun,' and started walking towards Delaware."

"When my bouncer heard that, he got everybody inside the building and got them in lockdown and had everybody go to the back poolroom to make sure everybody was safe," he said.

Pennimpede, the father of two young children, said he woke up to the glare of red lights flashing across his window early Friday, which he was surprised to see before the start of the weekend — when, he said, the crush of young bar patrons usually descends on the downtown neighborhood.

Weekend nights, particularly in the area of Allen Street where he lives, can be a little rowdy, but there is generally a strong police presence to deal with whatever comes up during those hours, Pennimpede said.

Buffalo Police, as of Friday evening, had not announced any arrests in the case. The death marked the 38th homicide of the year in Buffalo.

"This area is not like that. This is an anomaly," said Ricardo Hall, who is originally from the Bronx.

"I've been out here three years and never seen anything like that before," said Hall, who lives a few blocks away in the Linwood Avenue area. "It's a really good area."

Police beef up presence in Allentown as nightlife grows

Gunfire on Allen Street appears to be relatively rare.

In April, Buffalo Police made an arrest in a double shooting on Park Street that involved a man and a woman who knew each other. Though the man was seriously wounded in the domestic incident, neither of the victims died.

There were two shootings on Allen Street from 2011 through 2016, according to Buffalo Police data.

On June 26, 2014, a person was wounded in a shooting outside the Allen Street Bar and Grill — known as the Old Pink — at 223 Allen. The shooting involved a domestic dispute and the victim was a bystander who was seriously wounded. Deverick Petty of Riverside was later sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of assault and weapons possession.

No injuries were reported in a shooting near 196 Allen on Dec. 9, 2014, according to police data.

In addition, there was a murder-suicide on nearby College Street, in October 2014.

Frisicaro said he can recall only a couple of fatal shootings in the two decades he has lived in Allentown.

"I can walk to work within two minutes," he said. "I built a home here. I've got two two small children, 6 and 7. Allentown is a very safe place."

The neighborhood has been changing, he said.

"People are talking about all the new businesses opening," Frisicaro said. "Yes, when I first opened up, there were only four bars and restaurants around here. Now you have 12 or 13. "

But Frisicaro said he doesn't think the bars in the neighborhood are a contributing factor to the shooting.

"I feel it's very safe," he said. "Again, this is my community also. So I want it to be a safe environment."

News Staff Reporters Maki Becker and Aaron Besecker contributed to this report.

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