Local pastor voices concerns after back-to-back weekends of gun violence in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s been back-to-back weekends of gun violence on Buffalo’s East Side, and it’s raising concerns in the community.

Last weekend, two maintenance workers were shot and killed on Zenner Street in Buffalo in what police call a random attack involving a squatter.

Then on Saturday shortly after 11 p.m., police say six teenagers were shot in a parking lot off Jefferson Avenue near the intersection of Harlow and Alexander Place. Police say a 14-year-old was pronounced dead at Oishei Children’s Hospital.

“Our young people are mowed down and robbed at the chance of life before they’ve even got the chance to live. I’m always devastated by that and I’m even more disturbed by the fact those opportunities exist for those with negative intentions,” Pastor James Giles with Back to Basics Ministries, said.

Pastor Giles is sounding the alarm after another weekend filled with violence in Buffalo.

“It’s going to get worse this summer, unfortunately,” Giles said.

His organization combats violence in Buffalo. Over the last few years he says they’ve noticed less violence in the community, but he worries that could change this year.

“What I see happening is a proliferation of guns in the hands of the wrong people and the tension has grown to the point where this is how they handle business,” he said.

Pastor Giles is concerned for the city’s youth. By gathering law enforcement, public safety groups and other local anti-violence organizations, he’s hoping to find a solution to this problem.

“It’s not a question that nobody is doing things or nobody’s doing enough,” he said. “It’s just complex the system that we’re working with, it’s hard to wrap your arms around it. Law enforcement has done an amazing job, the city of Buffalo has begun provided services and grant money.”

Pastor Giles is calling on the city to continue funding programs to help.

“If we had more resources, we can do more. We can stretch our arms around the city if we had those resources,” he said.

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.

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