BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It's a somber anniversary of a dark day in Buffalo. Four young lives ended in a violent attack outside City Grill on Main Street, and four others were hurt.
The families, detectives, prosecutors and others gathered at True Bethel Baptist Church to mark the first anniversary of the City Grill shootings. Emotions ran the gamut at Sunday morning's ceremony, from sadness for the loss to joy for how the community came together in the wake of the tragedy.
Reverend Darius Pridgen said, "We must forgive, but we will never forget."
The whole purpose of this gathering was not to forget. Not to forget the tragedy of one year ago, when Riccardo McCray shot eight people on Main Street outside the City Grill, killing four of them.
The aunt of one of the victims, Rita McCaa, said, "I do forgive McCray. For some reason, my heart couldn't hate him, although I try to make myself. But for some reason, my heart couldn't hate him, and I do forgive him."
And, not to forget the bonds that the horrible events of that day forged between prosecutors, the victims' families, police detectives and community leaders -- people who, otherwise, may never have crossed paths.
Erie County DA Frank Sedita said, "I think by the end of this case, if it's fair to say, Jim and Marybeth and Sharon actually became adopted by several families. Under tragic circumstances of course, but they did such a great job."
But the air of somber remembrance was punctuated by a joyful note. The entire crowd rose to its feet and cheered as DeMario Vass -- the victim who is still hospitalized at ECMC and only semi-responsive -- was brought in in a wheelchair, his entire family at his side.
Most importantly, the families want all of Buffalo not to forget that last August 14 was a wake-up call to our community.
"We need more peace. We need to stick together as a community. If you see something, please speak up on it. Because that's the only way things are going to be solved. And we need to give more love, and help one another," said McCaa.
Sedita and Mayor Byron Brown spoke Sunday of how the City Grill shootings have changed the dynamic in this community, fostering greater cooperation between witnesses, the police, elected officials and religious leaders. As for DeMario Vass, his mother says her number one goal is to be able to bring him home for good by Thanksgiving.
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