NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rain or shine, a local group of activists have been out searching for at least four days to make sure missing Buffalo State College student Saniyya Dennis is found safe.
Dozens of people have passed out flyers and looking for Dennis. Folks from all over Western New York have joined the search.
“We have them meet here to pick up flyers, we provide them with tape or whatever they need and direct them back out in the community into their neighborhoods and their businesses where we know people frequent,” said Julia Stevens from Allies for Black Justice.
Dennis,19, went missing about a week ago. Officials say she was seen on video in the elevator of her dorm at around 11 p.m. at night. Then, hours later her cell phone was pinged near Goat Island in Niagara Falls.
A spokesperson for the Erie County District Attorney says a member of Flynn’s office met with the Dennis family Monday.The search group says Dennis’ parents have been looking with them.
“They’ve been out here every day as soon as they got into town, it did take them a while to get here.. They have been out here every single day looking for their daughter. They are focused. They are focused on finding her, Stevens said.”
Stevens says they’re also expanding their search beyond the the falls area.
“The thing is that there’s nothing indicating that she had gone in the water, so just as much effort as we’re putting to having people search the waterfronts, we want to give equal effort out in the community in case she is out there disoriented and confused. People will recognize her face and know immediately that this girl is missing and in danger.”
Buffalo State College President Katherine Conway-Turner released the following statement saying her heart goes out to the family and that the University Police Department staff will not rest until Saniyya is found.
To the Buffalo State Community,
I know that many of you are deeply concerned, as am I, about the disappearance of a beloved member of the Buffalo State College family, 19-year-old sophomore Saniyya Dennis, who has been missing since April 24. I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting Saniyya—a lovely young woman, honors student, and mechanical engineering technology major with a bright future ahead. My heart goes out to Saniyya’s family, whom we continue to support during this painful time.
Please know that University Police Chief Peter Carey and his officers have been working tirelessly with law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels to locate Saniyya. In particular, we thank the New York State Park Police and the countless community volunteers who have assisted in the search by posting fliers or sharing Saniyya’s photos on social media. We also appreciate the news media for all they are doing to share Saniyya’s story as we collectively hope for her safe return. As Chief Carey stated on Saturday, we recognize that there is great interest in the details of this case, but please understand that in order to protect the integrity of this multiagency investigation, we are unable to publicly disclose certain aspects of the case. This remains an active missing person investigation, and our dedicated officers, investigators, and UPD staff will not rest until Saniyya is found. UPD will continue to post advisory updates on its website as information becomes available.
Because Buffalo State faculty, staff, and students care deeply for one another, I have no doubt that Saniyya’s disappearance has weighed heavily on each of you. Our students should know that the Counseling Center staff is here to help them, and Student Affairs is planning virtual spaces for students to gather in support of Saniyya and her family. Faculty and staff members should contact our Employee Assistance Program if they need to talk to someone.
We ask everyone in the Buffalo State community to keep Saniyya and her family in your thoughts and prayers, share her story, and continue to support her family during this time of immense anguish. Please check the UPD website regularly for updates, and please remember that any information that may be of assistance to the investigation should be reported immediately to UPD at (716) 878-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can also be shared through the University Police anonymous tip line at (716) 878-3166 or by calling the NYS Missing Person’s Clearinghouse at (800) 346-3543. Let’s keep hope at the center of all we do.
Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.