Masten Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo finally spoke publicly about the decision not to file charges against him for recently carrying a loaded gun into a school.
But the city lawmaker didn't have much to say.
However, a handful of protesters did – at least silently – during Tuesday's Common Council meeting, wearing white T-shirts with red letters reading: "No excuses. No guns. No Wingo."
Afterward, when approached by reporters, a group spokesman compared Wingo's case to another incident in which a community activist brought a gun into a school, and he questioned whether justice was done this time.
During a press conference in his 14th floor City Hall office after the Council meeting, Wingo said, "I am extremely grateful for the decision and the discernment brought forth by (Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn) and I believe he made a good decision based off of human error. I made a mistake for which I am godly sorry for. I don't think people really understand the weight and gravity of the expectation that we walk in on a daily basis."
Wingo – who is running for re-election this year – then gave virtually the same answer to questions from reporters, including: Why didn't he put the gun in his car once he realized he had it on him? Was he able to avoid being charged because of his position as a councilman? Was he currently carrying a gun in City Hall? Has he carried a gun in the past inside the building, and going forward will he continue to carry?
Each time, Wingo said he was sorry for the way the incident happened. He made a mistake. If he could take it back, he would, and because of the ongoing investigation by the school district, he would not comment further.
Last Thursday, Flynn said Wingo "did commit a crime" when he brought a loaded gun to Riverside High School two weeks ago, but he will not be charged. Flynn said Wingo broke a law that says it is illegal to knowingly possess a gun on school property unless you have written permission. But Flynn noted the steps Wingo – who has a permit to carry a gun – took to safely store the gun inside the school office once he realized he had it on him and told the principal he forgot he had the weapon.
A school district spokesperson said Thursday that Wingo is still barred from all Buffalo Public Schools properties unless he gets the superintendent's written permission, despite Flynn's decision. The principal remains on administrative leave while the school district completes its investigation.
About seven peaceful protesters wearing the T-shirts at City Hall, including Joseph Flakes, said they were not satisfied with Flynn's decision not to charge.
Flakes recalled a similar incident in 2014, in which Buffalo community activist Dwayne A. Ferguson mistakenly brought a loaded gun into Harvey Austin School where he worked as a mentor in the after-school program. Ferguson was arrested and charged with two felony counts of weapon possession and a misdemeanor count of obstructing governmental administration when the gun was spotted.
One of the weapon charges was later dropped after it was determined that Ferguson had a permit for the gun.
The other charges were voided when Ferguson pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor gun charge. He apologized in court, was sentenced to a conditional discharge and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Wingo did basically the same thing, Flakes said, yet "nothing's going to happen. How is that justice?"