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Peaceful East Side street shattered by gunfire that wounds four Buffalo teens

Roosevelt Avenue is a peaceful street on the East Side, with rows of mostly owner-occupied, one- and two-story bungalows, cottages and tidy yards.

The quiet was shattered Friday night, when four teenagers, ages 15 to 19, were shot at an unsupervised gathering attended by dozens of teens outside 161 Roosevelt Ave. Ambulances took three of the teens to Erie County Medical Center and one to Women & Children's Hospital. Three of the four remain hospitalized, though none of the wounds appears to be life-threatening.

"We believe the incident is gang-related," Lt. Jeff Rinaldo said.

Rinaldo said some of the teenagers were believed to be posing for pictures when a car pulled up and shots rang out.

Thirty minutes earlier, in what police believed to have been unrelated shooting, a man was struck by gunfire on the 100 block of Wood Avenue and taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

Also early Friday, two men were shot inside Super Market Express, 143 Walden Ave. One was in serious condition at Erie County Medical Center.

And around 8:17 a.m. Saturday, a person was shot multiple times at the intersection of Niagara Street and Hertel Avenue. The victim is in critical condition at Erie County Medical Center.

Four teens were shot outside 161 Roosevelt Ave. Friday night. Three remain hospitalized, but none of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

Kira Stallworth, a mother of several young children, rents the house at 161 Roosevelt Ave., near where the four teens were wounded. She said she was in the back of the house when gunfire outside  her house occurred. She said she didn't hear anything.

"I don't really know too much about it," Stallworth said in the doorway, near a bullet hole in the front window. "It was like a little get-together. And the people were walking past and the dude was shooting at them. I don't know," she said, offering a version different than the police's assessment.

When told a neighbor doubted the teens outside her house were older than 19, Stallworth responded, "You think 19 is a kid?"

"It's disconcerting," said Terry Alford, who's lived on Roosevelt Avenue for eight months.

He wore a button with an anti-violence message worn by fellow members of Buffalo United Front, an East Side bicycle club.

"This is usually a quiet neighborhood, as are most neighborhoods on the East Side," Alford said.

Ashley Carter, who has rented on the street the past two years, said the shooting was reason enough to move.

"I gave my landlord my 30 days notice last night," Carter said. "I can't do it. I've got kids. There's too much going on over here. I like this little neighborhood, but after this it's time to go."

The street has an active Roosevelt Block Club. There are organized street improvements, had a Halloween party for the children in the park and free turkey giveaways for Thanksgiving.

At the northern end of the street is a park with a big playground, tennis court and lots of green space that connects to the Charter School of Inquiry.

"I've lived on this street for 46 years, and I don't remember a shooting ever happening on this street," said Jennie Isome, the block club's vice president. "If there was, it would have to have been a long time ago."

Isome said she was praying for those who were shot and the people who live in the house where the shooting occurred.

Marion Fuller, who lives with her 6-year-old daughter Olivia directly across the street from where the shooting took place, said she's hoping the shooting was an aberration.

"This is terrible," Fuller said. "I just bought this house eight months ago. I didn't leave one neighborhood to go to another neighborhood that's worse. This is not what I signed up for."

"I lived at Ada Street, and my neighbor, maybe a year and a half ago, was shot sitting in his house. I can't do that again," she said.

Fuller got home Friday night at around 8:45 p.m., following Olivia's violin lesson. Her father was over, and it was quiet across the street, Fuller said.

Then the gunfire erupted.

"It sounded like an automatic weapon. When we heard it we ran to the back of the house," Fuller said. "My daughter jumped up and started running and was scared, but we made her go to sleep and she was out quickly."

Fuller also called 911, to find other neighbors had already gotten through. Outside, the teens looked like they were in shock, she said. A girl sat on the steps of the house, her leg bleeding. She and the other three teens were soon taken away on stretchers.

"It looked like it was a makeshift party and was not supervised by an adult," Fuller said. "If it was, then that adult did not have any control over that house at all."

Fuller, who is only the third owner of her house, said she's confident the peacefulness she's found on the street will become the norm again.

"As much as people stigmatize the East Side, people have been living here for a long time, and there's never any issues," Fuller said. "This is not the kind of neighborhood for that."

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