Rochester Police are investigating a mass shooting that happened early Saturday morning in the Marketview Heights neighborhood, not far from the Public Market.
It happened at about 12:25 a.m. Saturday at a house party at 278 Pennsylvania Ave. Police say a total of 16 people were shot, two of them suffering fatal wounds. A man and a woman, both between 18 and 22 years old, died at the scene.
Officials say the other 14 victims all have non-life-threatening injuries. Police say they range in age from 17-23.
Interim Police Chief Mark Simmons says when police were called to the area because of the gunfire, there were about 100 people there in what appeared to be a backyard party. That kind of gathering is illegal under a city curfew for the overnight hours, which was set in place in July in an effort to curtail violent incidents.
No names of the victims have been released yet, and there is no word yet of any arrests or a motive. Police are asking anyone with information to call 911 or email: MajorCrimes@cityofrochester.gov.
Just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday, WXXI photojournalist Max Schulte said that the medical examiner was removing two bodies from the scene.
The violence happens during a month in which tensions in the city have been high after police body camera video was released showing the apprehension of Daniel Prude, who had been in mental distress. He was pinned to the pavement by officers and suffocated. He died a week later. The resulting uproar and investigation resulted in the suspension of seven officers, a change in the command staff of the police d department, including the chief, and multiple investigations.
“For our community who right now is going through so much, to have to be dealt with this tragedy, needlessly, (with) people who decide to act in a violent manner, it’s unfortunate and it’s shameful, and we’re going to do everything that we can as a department to bring those people involved to justice," Simmons said at the scene of the shooting early Saturday morning.
Early Saturday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren released this statement:
“I’ve been briefed by Acting Police Chief Simmons on the shooting event which occurred on Pennsylvania Avenue in the City of Rochester. Our Pathways to Peace Team is on the ground and working with the victims and their families. I’m asking the community for prayers and support for all involved. This tragic act of violence has impacted many people's lives and families. I’m begging everyone to remain calm and exercise deep restraint as RPD investigates what happened here and seeks those responsible. As soon as additional information is available the police department will provide updates on this matter. Please keep our city in your continual prayers.”
City Council Vice President and Public Safety Committee Chair Willie Lightfoot had this statement:
"My heart is heavy this morning, I am devastated by the news of more senseless gun violence happening in our City. Two precious lives were lost, 14 people were wounded, and countless numbers have been traumatized. I join our community as we grieve alongside the victims and families of those who have been killed or wounded. Gun violence is a pandemic that the City and the ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition have been actively fighting against. This week the City announced new initiatives for a community response to homicides; now, tragically, the same week we made that announcement, we must mobilize to respond to one of the largest acts of gun violence our City has ever seen. I am grateful for the immediate response of Pathways to Peace and other community partners who are working to stabilize the neighborhood. I join the Mayor in begging this community remain calm and exercise restraint, and I ask if anyone has information that could be helpful please share it with the authorities. Pray for our City and for those impacted by this tragedy."
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley issued this statement on Saturday morning:
“Last night's violence was a devastating tragedy, especially for a city that is already hurting. I trust that the Rochester Police Department will work tirelessly to investigate this shooting and identify those responsible for this violence against our community. I offer sympathies and support to all of the victims and their families whose lives are forever changed.”
Assemblyman Harry Bronson said that," This needless and senseless act of violence angers me and is yet another example of the work that is undone. Too many in our community have fallen victim to the hopelessness and helplessness that is present in our society and throughout our City. The level of despair is unforgiving. Our young people are our future and we need to ensure that they know we are working with and for them to ensure they have opportunity, they have promise, they have a future."
Reverend Marlowe Washington of Seneca United Methodist Church said that, “to be fair, I am livid! We in the Black community cannot offer the removal of police officers from the police department when police brutality occurs and not asked for those responsible in hosting dangerous gatherings to not be held accountable for their actions especially when lives were lost or injured due to frivolous reasons. That is why I am supporting the call to arrest the host(s) of the house party on Pennsylvania Avenue and hold them accountable as well."