Rochester Police are releasing more details about one of the worst mass shootings in the city’s history.
It happened early Saturday morning after a party outside a house in the 200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Two young people died at the scene, and 14 others were wounded.
The people who died have been identified as Jaquayla Young, who graduated last year from East High School, and Jarvis Alexander, who graduated last year from UPrep, a charter school in the city. Both were 19 years old.
On Saturday night, RPD Captain Frank Umbrino said that the original gathering on Pennsylvania Ave. was an invitation only party, and was not supposed to be a large party. But he said that there were two other parties in the neighborhood, and people from those parties came over to the smaller gathering. Umbrino said that as the evening progressed, an argument broke out among a couple of people, and then 3 or 4 people took out handguns and started firing.
Umbrino said that more than 40 rounds were fired, with more than 100 people in attendance at the backyard party at that point.
“Jaquayla and Jarvis were likely not the intended targets; we have 2 innocent victims here that were attending a party with a few friends and unfortunately they lost their lives as a result because 3 or 4 individuals decided to carry handguns and pull them out and shoot at a crowd of one to 200 people.” Umbrino said that officers have spoken to many of those at the party, and he said their cooperation “has been commendable,” but he says authorities still need more people to come forward.
Police are asking anyone with information to call 911 or email: MajorCrimes@cityofrochester.gov.
Umbrino said that police also are looking for any photos or videos that witnesses could sent to them to help with the investigation. There is no word yet of any suspects.
Umbrino spent part of the news conference criticizing the way gun laws are handled through the courts, saying, "If I hear one more politician talk about what we need to do to stop the violence, we need more gun laws, we need this, we need that, quite frankly, I’m going to vomit. These people that say that have no idea what they’re talking about."
"You have individuals getting locked up for illegal handguns and being released from custody the next day, that’s disgusting, how does that happen?” Umbrino said.
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 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," Interim Chief Mark 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."
The local activist group Free The People Roc, which has been a main organizer behind the demonstrations calling for justice for Daniel Prude said on Saturday on its Facebook page:
"We grieve with the victims and families of this morning’s horrific shooting. It hurts to see our community in such pain. Just as we are coming to grips with one tragedy, we are hit with another. These last six months have taken so much from our communities. People are experiencing unfathomable pain and loss. More than ever we need to invest in the resources that make us healthy and whole. All of us deserve to live violence-free lives, but that’s impossible when people lack stable housing, fully funded schools, and well-paying jobs. It’s impossible when we invest more in police from the suburbs than the youth in our own neighborhoods. This is a wake up call to radically shift our priorities and invest in the people of this city."