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Six people injured by gunfire at MLK park early Sunday; an officer also injured taking one man into custody

File photo
James Brown
File photo

Rochester Police continue to investigate what they said was a chaotic scene at MLK Park downtown over the weekend.

Chief David Smith said it happened after the park closed, at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday, when officers in the area heard gunshots.

They found a 33-year-old man suffering from a gunshot to the lower body. Due to the seriousness of the injuries, Smith said police applied a tourniquet and then the man was taken to Strong Hospital for what was later determined to be a non-life threatening injury.

Then, as the situation unfolded an additional five victims were located, according to Smith. He said that all of those who were shot had non-life threatening injuries.

Smith also said that one officer was injured while taking a man into custody who had blocked police at the scene and started to fight with them. RPD charged 38-year-old Joshua Sanchez with assault, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and harassment. He was taken to county jail.

Smith said that Monroe County deputies and State Police also assisted at the scene.

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“Our primary responsibility in these situations is to try and regain order, take charge, de-escalate the situation, and then sort things out,” Smith said on Sunday. “When you have people that are actively fighting with officers who are trying to render medical attention, obviously it makes it that much harder.”

Those who were injured by shootings, besides the initial victim, included a 17-year-old male, and 18-year-old male, a 21-year-old male, a 25-year-old female and a 20-year old female. Some of the victims were taken to the hospital by ambulance, others arrived via private vehicles.

The chief said that police are still investigating and looking for suspects in what appears to have started with a group of people hanging out in the area when there was some sort of argument and reportedly at least one person pulled out a gun and began to fire into the crowd before running away.

Smith said as difficult as this situation was, shootings are down compared to this time a year ago in the city.

“When you’re looking at shootings overall, and crime overall, last June we had 29 shootings. Up until last night, we had six,” Smith said. “Hopefully, (with) a few more days left in June, we’re still going to come in at the end of June well under 50% of the shootings that we had last year.”

Smith says there will be additional police presence in that area this week. That message was amplified by Mayor Malik Evans who held a news conference Sunday evening at the Public Safety Building. Evans said the city needs to crack down on unlawful, out-of-control gatherings. "And it’s just unacceptable, we cannot tolerate it and it’s something that we as a community have to address and speak to," Evans said as he announced that MLK Park, which used to be open until 11 p.m., will now be closed at 8 p.m. every night. Police will also be closing Court Street between Chestnut Street and the traffic circle starting at 7 p.m. every evening, and that will continue through next Sunday.

Evans also said that additional security and RPD patrols will also be committed to other public spaces into the overnight hours until further notice. And the mayor said the city has also stationed additional lighting at MLK Park for use around the clock.

The mayor implored members of the community to call 911 or 311 if they see large groups start to gather so that police can respond before a situation escalates into violence.



Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.