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Youth football coach killed trying to break up a fight: 'He died a hero'

A Buffalo youth league football coach — viewed as a role model by many of his players — was fatally shot Saturday evening not far from where his team had just lost its first game of the season, according to people at the scene as well as others who knew the coach.

The victim was identified as Norzell "Nore" Aldridge, 36, of Cheektowaga, by team parents and others who knew him.

Aldridge was shot while trying to defuse a dispute between two teenagers not related to the football game, The Buffalo News was told.

"He was an innocent victim," said Buffalo Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen. "He put himself in harm's way to protect other young people."

Buffalo police reported two men were shot at the corner of Koons Avenue and Sycamore Street shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday, and that one of them, a 36-year-old, died at Erie County Medical Center.

Police late Sunday confirmed the name of the victim, but did release any information on the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

But The Buffalo News spoke to a parent who was at the football  field, not far from where the shooting occurred, several others who knew Aldridge, and to Pridgen, who spoke Sunday with people who knew Aldridge.

Here's what they said happened:

The youth football team Aldridge coached — the Beast Elite Ducks, made up of 9- and 10-year-olds — had its first game of the season at Emerson Park, behind Harvey Austin School, at Koons and Sycamore.

The game ended, and most of the players and their parents had left. Coaches, including Aldridge, were cleaning up, and a few players were still there too.

Aldridge noticed an altercation in the distance, at Sycamore and Koons, between two teenagers. He went over hoping to defuse the situation.

He was shot. Aldridge’s cousin, who was at the game, rushed the wounded Aldridge to the hospital in a car, according to Dwayne Warren, a friend of Aldridge.

He died at Erie County Medical Center.

The players and parents still at the football field could not see what happened, but heard the gunfire, one witness said.

“He was trying to break up a fight,” said Warren. “The guy died a hero trying to save someone else’s life. He was trying to defuse the situation.”

Buffalo police had a detail at the football game, and rushed to the scene when the shooting occurred, but were unable to locate a suspect at the time, said police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge.

Police are routinely detailed to youth football games because of past problems at some of the events, DeGeorge said.

Police are asking anyone with information to call or text their Confidential TIPCALL Line at (716) 847-2255.


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