Former Erie County DA talks prosecuting Tops shooter 2 years later

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — John Flynn has since left the public sector, but when the Tops mass shooting took place on May 14, 2022, he was the District Attorney of Erie County.

Flynn joined News 4 on Tuesday evening to reflect on the process of prosecuting the shooter, what the victims’ families wanted to see, and the impact the incident had on Buffalo as a whole.

“That sadness and that day is never going to leave,” Flynn said.

The mass shooting, which resulted in 10 people being killed and three others injured, was an atypical example of violence in the Buffalo community, Flynn said, but the resulting call for action put the spotlight on addressing the violence the city sees year-round.

“Have we made enough progress in two years? That’s debatable. Have we finished the job in two years? That’s not debatable. That’s a definite no,” Flynn said.

Prosecuting the mass shooter had a set of challenges. Convicting him of murder put him behind bars, but Flynn says it was the domestic terrorism charge that assured he would never see the light of day again. Part of the evidence proving this came in the form of documents and a social media video of the shooter’s attack.

DA: “Swift justice” served in Tops mass shooter’s sentencing

Some victims’ family members wanted the case to go to trial, in order to further publicize the shooter’s acts, Flynn said, but it did not. The shooter admitted to the state charges against him in November 2022.

That case resulted in 11 life sentences, handed down in February 2023. Now, the shooter continues to face federal prosecution, where he could be sentenced to death.

Watch the full News 4 interview with Flynn in the video below:

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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