BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The City of Buffalo is on pace to have its most violent year on record, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.
Flynn says to date, 39 people have died as a result of a homicide in 2021. Of those people, two died from injuries sustained prior to the New Year. The statistic is on pace to break the record of 94 homicides in Buffalo set in 1994.
“By far the number one concern is the number of shootings and the number of homicides that is occurring in our community,” Flynn said.
There are still boots on the ground fighting against the violence, including the ones worn by Pastor Kenneth Simmons. Each day, even throughout the pandemic, he says he takes a long walk down Bailey Avenue at 7 a.m. and just talks to people.
“To let them know that there happens to be men and individuals out here who love you and care about you and are genuinely concerned,” he explained. “What can we do to help your situation? And we need to let them do the talking.”
While Simmons and others are still out there, Flynn says one aspect of community engagement has been lacking throughout the pandemic. He says “big picture macro-level” engagement has been impacted.
“We’ve all been involved here,” the district attorney said. “We’re all out on the street doing our job. But obviously no one is going to dispute that COVID has had a detrimental effect on social interaction.”
As coronavirus continues continue to improve, that may begin to turn around soon. A community event has been scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Anti-violence groups are expected to be on hand to engage with attendees.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.