BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A bystander killed during a car chase Tuesday night in Buffalo was identified as 58-year-old Clara Gomez – a woman known in the city simply as Claire, a ubiquitous panhandler with enough community stature that she was featured on the cover of a 2019 Griselda album.
As news of her death circulated Wednesday, a $10,000 donation to a GoFundMe for funeral expenses was made by Alvin Worthy, the popular Buffalo rapper and Griselda member known as Westside Gunn. He also added a $620 donation that helped the fundraiser surpass goal.
“BURY MY BABY IN STYLE,” Westside Gunn posted on Twitter. “#RIPCLAIRE the LEGEND.”
A funeral for Claire will be held next Friday, June 2, at Lombardo Funeral Home from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (102 Linwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209).
Griselda’s 2019 album W.W.C.D., which earned them an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, featured a close-up of Claire’s face in black and white on the cover. The photographer who took the photo told News 4 Claire epitomized the emotion the album hoped to capture.
“I wanted to have it be done in a way that was very nonchalant, capturing her in her moment,” photographer Victor Orozco told News 4’s Marlee Tuskes. “The idea behind it was essentially to capture, and what ultimately was selected, was the struggle that a lot of us go through.”
Westside Gunn made numerous references to Claire in his music and in interviews, including name-dropping her on the 2019 song “Connie’s Son.”
“If you don’t know Claire, you’re not from Buffalo,” Westside Gunn said on a 2020 Rap Radar show when asked about the album cover.
“I just felt like Claire was the Buffalo mascot,” he added. “Claire is a victim to the circumstances of Buffalo. Claire is one of those people that go from every hood — from hood to hood, hood to hood — all day long asking for bread. Everybody in the city knows her.”
“She asks a little aggressive, too, sometimes,” fellow Griselda member Benny The Butcher added.
“She’ll ask you straight up, she will tell you, ‘I want ten dollars,'” Westside Gunn replied. “And if you’re like, ‘I only got two,’ she’s like … ‘Two dollars, what I’mma do with that?'”
Westside Gunn said the photo of Claire on the album cover is an homage to Buffalo.
“I believe in art, art is always first for me. That imagery just represented our city,” he said.
“I wanted to make Buffalo proud. Even the names of the songs are dedicated to Buffalo. … For Buffalo, this is our trophy. When people see the names of the songs, and then see Claire on the cover, it’s like, oh s***!”
One man has been charged so far in connection with the incident that led to Claire’s death. A Buffalo man who allegedly fired a gun during the car chase has been charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment. Officials believe the car the man was chasing ultimately struck Claire. Additional charges could be filed in the case.
“She deserves our love. She deserves justice here,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said. “She didn’t deserve to die this way. I’m going to do whatever it takes within my boundaries to bring her justice.”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.