Buffalo community leaders gather for a ‘healing circle’

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A group of community leaders came together Thursday in what they called a healing circle to help deal with the emotions of last Saturday’s shooting.

Members of the Buffalo Equity Coalition said this past weekend has left everyone broken hearted and everyone is feeling a range of emotions.

They organized this healing circle Thursday morning to help the community do just that: heal, from the tragedy of the Tops mass shooting. This was at the Buffalo Urban League on Genesee Street.

Among those who attended and spoke was Senator Tim Kennedy.

“It’s a conversation about race, its a conversation about history, about hate evil that’s perpetrated our country since before the inception of our country,” Senator Kennedy said.

Sam Radford III from We The Parents also spoke during the event.

He said he wants to see local officials put policies in place to prevent another tragedy from happening.

“We all as Americans suffer while we get polarized with people pointing the finger at each other and nobody advancing policy, nobody advancing initiatives, nobody governing while we all suffer,” Radford said. “So we gotta challenge them, our elected leaders. It’s not all right for him to sit, wherever he’s from in Broome county in a little room, and get full of hate, and not be exposed to African American culture, other people of color.”

This group meets regularly and had previously scheduled this meeting before Saturday’s shooting.

Organizers said that’s what made Thursday’s gathering that much more important.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.


Families of victims unleash tears and frustrations

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Families of some of the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting unleashed tears and frustration on the steps of Antioch Baptist Church.

The family of shooting victim Ruth Whitfield came together with the families of three other victims to meet with renowned civil rights icon Rev. Al Sharpton, who now leads the National Action Network that monitors acts of bigotry and unequal justice.

The anguish of a daughter whose mother, her best friend, was cut down by a gunman as she was only buying groceries at the supermarket.

The children of Ruth Whitfield, who was killed at Tops Saturday, sharing their grief and their heartbreak with the loved ones of three other victims.

“Evidence collection phase… has concluded”: Officials say Tops on Jefferson is back in company control

“I took my last picture of my mom on Mother’s Day and she was so beautiful, but that picture can’t replace her, nothing can,” said Robin Harris, daughter of Ruth Whitfield.

Whitfield’s family has retained prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to find justice for their deceased mother.

“None of these families last week this time, thought they were going to be broken-hearted victims of a young, depraved white supremacist,” Crump said.

Civil rights icon, Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network is taking up their cause.

“This is an assault on all of us. They did not shoot these victims because of who they were, they shot them because of what they were, they were guilty of being Black,” Sharpton said.

Rev. Al Sharpton condemns “era of hate,” vows to support families of mass shooting victims

While the Whitfields have been the face of this tragedy, others spoke out on behalf of their loved ones.

Veronica White struggled through her tears on behalf of her deceased nephew Andre Mackniel.

“I cannot believe somebody would give some child a gun and let them him think it is okay and come in somebody’s hometown and just shoot it up,” White said.

Tirza Patterson’s son Jacob quietly covered his tears as she spoke of his father, Heyward Patterson, also killed in the shooting. She called on an African proverb to get them through.

“I need a village to help me raise and be here for my son because he has no father,” Patterson said.

Those families promised to support Patterson, and be the village to help raise her son.

Sharpton also praised Buffalo for reacting to last week’s shooting not with violence, but rather with love and dignity to in his words, “answer an atrocity.”

Buffalo Supermarket Mass Shooting

Families of victims unleash tears and frustrations
Rev. Al Sharpton condemns “era of hate,” vows to support families of mass shooting victims
Niagara University food drive planned for communities affected by Buffalo mass shooting
Sullivan: Griffs carry city’s grief to NCAA tourney
City collecting personal care items for Jefferson Avenue neighbors

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.


Rev. Al Sharpton condemns “era of hate,” vows to support families of mass shooting victims

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Attorneys for the families of the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at Tops, say they will take legal action against gun manufacturers and social media companies, and anyone they feel was neglectful before the mass shooting.

The Reverend Al Sharpton has joined that call for accountability. He visited the Tops on Jefferson Avenue and met with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Tops employees.

Sharpton and attorneys for the victims’ families are making a push not only for stricter gun laws in the U.S. but for a hate crime bill that protects African Americans to be passed.

Sharpton says the organization he founded, the National Action Network will provide financial support to the families.

“They will never recover from what happened, there will always be an empty seat at their table, their holidays will be hollow and the whole country must stand and let them know that enough is enough,” Sharpton said.

Sharpton and the families are calling on President Joe Biden to hold a summit on hate crimes to address what Sharpton calls “an era of hate.” They’re demanding that a Black Hate Crime bill be passed in Washington, similar to the legislation that was passed to support Asian Americans.

“There’s been no real national legislation, there’s been no real addressing of how we’re going to monitor and stop this in advance,” Sharpton said, “I’m glad the president came, but we got to do more than come, we got to stop this and we got to stand with these families.”

Sullivan: Buffalo’s poet laureate strives to inspire a grieving city

The nationally-recognized criminal defense attorney is also representing the families.

“Why is it we can’t get some federal legislation passed to say that we need to have an anti-black hate crime bill too because our lives matter just as much as any other life,” Crump said.

Attorneys for the families are making every indication legal action will be taken against anyone they feel are at fault or didn’t see warning flags, such as gun manufacturers and social media companies.

“We’re going to accomplish the goals for each and every one of you, we’re going to fight for you, we’re going to fight for all of your families,” said Terry Connors, criminal defense attorney, “We’re going to make sure that we honor the legacy of these people who died so tragically.”

That legacy could lead to changes in laws or policy. Attorneys for the families say the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which is based in Washington, D.C., will also assist the families of the victims with free legal representation.

Buffalo Supermarket Mass Shooting

Rev. Al Sharpton condemns “era of hate,” vows to support families of mass shooting victims
Niagara University food drive planned for communities affected by Buffalo mass shooting
Sullivan: Griffs carry city’s grief to NCAA tourney
City collecting personal care items for Jefferson Avenue neighbors
“Evidence collection phase… has concluded”: Officials say Tops on Jefferson is back in company control

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.


DMV urges New Yorkers to get a REAL ID before the federal deadline

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Starting May 3rd, 2023, a standard license or non-driver ID will no longer be accepted to fly within the U.S.

Although the deadline is about a year, The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) urges New Yorkers to apply for a REAL ID or Enhanced ID now to avoid the last-minute rush next year. 

“If you wait to get the REAL ID closer to the deadline it’s going to get packed… It’s stressful for the customer, and for the staff here,” said Janice Farwell, the supervisor at Chemung County DMV. “Less time in the DMV is always good right?”

An Enhanced ID costs $30 extra and can be used as identification when returning to the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, and some countries in the Caribbean. NY State DMV Commissioner, Mark Schroeder, says an Enhanced ID would especially benefit those who live in Upstate New York, crossing the border into Canada.

“A lot of people that I know, really don’t like to use their passport. So the Enhanced driver’s license is very convenient to go over the Peace Bridge, that’s just one example,” said Schroeder.

New Yorkers whose license or ID is up for renewal now can get a REAL ID at no additional cost to the renewal fee, and those seeking to upgrade now when not up for renewal pay an extra $12.50. In addition to the REAL ID, which is also needed to enter some federal buildings, the DMV offers an Enhanced ID which meets federal REAL ID standards.

“We don’t want people from New York State to want to visit grandma in Fort Lauderdale and not be able to go because they didn’t know they had to have a REAL ID or Enhanced driver’s license,” said Schroeder.

A passport is also acceptable as a REAL ID-compliant document.

To help inform New Yorkers about the federal requirements to get a REAL or Enhanced ID, the DMV also announced that it would be making staff available in airports throughout New York State.

The federal REAL ID Act requires customers applying for a REAL ID or Enhanced ID to visit a DMV office to prove who they are and to have a new photograph taken. Many DMV offices require customers to make a reservation, which customers can do online at

Before going to the DMV, New Yorkers are encouraged to use the DMV’s document guide to help determine what documents they need to bring to the office. The guide, which takes just minutes to complete, asks customers a series of short, simple questions to help them determine what proofs of identification and residency they need to bring. Only original documents, or certified copies of certain documents, will be accepted.

DMV also issued guidance to help customers avoid the top 5 most common mistakes people make when seeking to get a REAL ID. One of the important reminders is to provide documentation if your name has changed.


Niagara University food drive planned for communities affected by Buffalo mass shooting

NIAGARA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University is hosting a community food drive over the next week to support communities affected by the Tops mass shooting.

Ten people were killed and three others were injured last weekend at the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue, an area that’s considered a food desert. That Tops was the only supermarket within walking distance for many, and it’s currently closed as the investigation continues.

Now, the museum is partnering with FeedMore WNY to collect non-perishable items such as:

packaged foods: peanut butter, jelly, cereal, crackers, pasta, ricecanned goods: soup, vegetables personal care items: shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, hand soappaper products: paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, laundry detergent

The Castellani Art Museum’s food drive will run Friday, May 20, through Friday, May 27.

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The museum, located at 7 Varsity Drive at Niagara University, is open to the public Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Staff will also be there Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accept donations.

“The CAM continues the vision of Armand and Eleanor Castellani, immigrants to America, in providing an inclusive educational space that supports the people threatened by these acts. We stand in solidarity with BIPOC and immigrant communities in our area and condemn racist attacks here and throughout the United States,” the museum said in a news release.


Buffalo man convicted of breaking into woman’s home, assault

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Buffalo man has been convicted of breaking into a woman’s home to assault her and her child, prosecutors said.

A jury found 42-year-old Netza Medina guilty Wednesday of one count of first-degree burglary, one count of aggravated criminal contempt and one count of child endangerment after a five-day trial and two hours of deliberating.

The Erie County Prosecutor’s Office said just after midnight Dec. 29, 2020, Medina went to the woman’s home in Buffalo, knowingly violating a no-contact order of protection. The woman called 911 while Medina entered the home, breaking two windows and kicking in a door.

Once inside, prosecutors said he pushed the woman to the floor and choked her. A child at the home grabbed a knife to try to intervene, and Medina hit the child in the face with his elbow. Medina then held the knife to the child as the woman attempted to pull him off the child.

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Prosecutors said Medina continued to push the woman into the kitchen, holding the knife to her neck and then punching and kicking her.

Police and a friend of the woman arrived, and Medina was taken into custody.

The woman had injuries to her mouth, nose and eyes; the child was treated for a broken jay and stab wound to his hand.

As a second felony offender, Medina faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 6. He is still being held without bail.


Buffalo man sentenced for shooting that paralyzed 42-year-old

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Buffalo man found guilty of assault and gun charges after a shooting that paralyzed a man will spend over three decades behind bars.

Demetrius D. Williams was sentenced Thursday in Erie County court to a total of 35 years in prison and then 5 years of post-release supervision.

Last month, a jury found the 39-year-old guilty of one county of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Williams was acquitted of an attempted murder charge.

Williams received the maximum sentence of 25 years for the assault charge and 10 years for the gun charge; the sentences will run back-to-back.

Newfane 20-year-old charged with manslaughter in deadly crash

Prosecutors said Williams intentionally shot a 42-year-old man with an illegal firearm on Marigold Avenue near Central Park Avenue in Buffalo.

The victim was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where doctors discovered his spinal cord was severed, and he was paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the base of his skull. The 42-year-old continues to receive care from a long-term assisted living facility.


Erie County man charged, accused of attacking man with broken beer bottle

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Springville man was charged this week, accused of assaulting another man with a broken beer bottle that left the victim seriously injured.

Erie County prosecutors have charged 33-year-old Roberto Perez-Ramos with one count of first-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Prosecutors said on Friday, May 13, just after 8 p.m., Erie County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a residential complex on S. Cascade Drive in Springville.

When deputies arrived, they found a man outside the complex with severe cuts and stab wounds. First-responders took the man to a local hospital before he was transported by hospital to another Erie County hospital. He was treated for injuries to his face, ear and chest and then released.

Newfane 20-year-old charged with manslaughter in deadly crash

Perez-Ramos is accused of assaulting the man with a broken glass bottle, prosecutors said. Officials recovered a broken beer bottle from the scene.

Perez-Ramos is set to appear in court again on Friday, May 20. His bail has been set at $5,000 cash or a $50,000 bond/partially secured bond.

If he’s convicted, Perez-Ramos could be sentenced up to 25 years in prison.


Expanding Resources for Minority-Owned Businesses

By Ted Janicki, President, Bank of America, Buffalo

At Bank of America, fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce is core to who we are as a company and how we drive responsible growth in the markets we serve. Implementing these values begins at the very top at Bank of America – CEO Brian Moynihan chairs our Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, which plays an important role in setting company-wide goals and executing the strategies needed to achieve them. These goals are reflected throughout our employee networks, local partnerships, and our commitment to advancing racial equality and economic opportunity.

Last year, Bank of America released two Black Business Owner Reports to examine business trends, the impact of the pandemic, and the everyday challenges of small business ownership through an equity lens. The summer report found that 93% of Black small business owners intended to obtain some type of funding for their business in the upcoming year – most of the business owners surveyed also expected their businesses and the economy to rebound. The majority of respondents (56%) in the February report also noted that challenges accessing capital limited their business’ growth. These results are profoundly troubling and underscore the urgency to improve Black entrepreneurs’ access to crucial resources and capital.

As we celebrate Small Business Month and Buffalo’s entrepreneurs during May, it is imperative to recognize that access to capital is critical – especially for minority-owned companies, which were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Bank of America directly engages with minority-owned businesses to ensure they have access to the tools and resources needed to secure funding, including EforAll Buffalo. Our network of community development financial institutions including Pathstone Enterprise Center, also works to expand access to capital for business owners who have historically been denied or faced barriers when applying for financial assistance. Here in Buffalo, we also work with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to create opportunities for small business owners through the newly launched Minority-Owned Business Initiative, which created an underwriting fund to sponsor new BNP memberships.

Our internal goals, research, and local partners are examples of how Bank of America is working towards advancing racial equality and economic opportunity in Buffalo. By understanding our communities and local business owners, we can better invest in the guiding principles of diversity and inclusion to make Western New York a better place for all.


About Bank of America: 

Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services.

About the Author: 

Ted Janicki is the Buffalo market president and Upstate New York/Western Massachusetts small business banking market executive for Bank of America. 

As market president, Ted is responsible for connecting the banking and investment resources offered through Bank of America’s eight lines of business to companies, families and individuals across Erie and Niagara counties. He also leads the effort to deploy Bank of America’s resources to address social concerns, strengthen economic opportunity, and build strong communities, as well as supporting the health, safety and engagement of local teammates.


Disclaimer: The above commentary entails the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

The post Expanding Resources for Minority-Owned Businesses appeared first on Buffalo Niagara Partnership.


City collecting personal care items for Jefferson Avenue neighbors

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The city is holding a personal care items drive Thursday and Friday to collect items for the Jefferson Avenue neighbors.

Food donations have been pouring in since Saturday, but Mayor Byron Brown said the community told him they also need personal care items.

They’re collecting items like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, toothpaste, soaps, wipes, garbage bags, and feminine products.

“A lot of food is coming in, a lot of things, a lot of activities to serve people out in the community to distribute food out in the community and from all that distribution what we were hearing from residents out in the community was that they needed personal care items,” Mayor Brown said.

Wegmans donated a truck full of these items Thursday.

“Making sure we had diapers, that was one of those things they were hoping to get, so just listening to the neighbors just to hear what do they need right now and doing our best to provide that,” said Wegmans spokesperson Michele Mehaffy.

There will be bins at City Hall and the drive runs through Friday.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.