ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Questions remain, after learning more about the death of Rochester Police Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz.
Emotions are heavy; both in the community, and the department.
A criminal complaint filed Friday in Rochester shines a light on a violent turf war that investigators say ultimately led to the fatal shooting of Officer Mazurkiewicz.
The bombshell affidavit links Mazurkiewicz’s death with a fatal triple shooting, multiple drive-by shootings, an arson, and a slew of police raids at suspected drug houses throughout the city.
According to the affidavit, which can be read in full here, the investigation began in earnest when agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives met with an informant and an RPD investigator over the summer. Investigators say the informant is someone who has collaborated with them on this case as well as others, and that information “has been independently corroborated to the best extent possible.”
The informant told investigators about a “feud” between Brandon Washington — who the affidavit claims is a member of the national gang, the Crips — and “R.S.,” who is a member of a rival national gang, the Bloods.
Ultimately, over 130 pounds of marijuana were seized, $10,000 in cash, and 18 arrests were made. 22 firearms were recovered.
The questions we have unanswered: how can this be prevented, and are these alleged turf wars over in Rochester?
Lt. Greg Bello said investigations like this one, are never really over. While recent arrests are good news, the pressure is on to make sure there’s no more violence.
“Hopefully preventing, the vacuum that’s now been formed by taking major players out of the game and preventing more players from moving into this position,” said Bello.
Again, he said these criminal networks are formed, over drugs like marijuana.
Rochester police say that Kelvin Vickers of Boston, was in Rochester as part of an alleged illegal distribution network, run by suspect Brandon Washington. Vickers is accused of shooting and killing Mazurkiewicz.
Marijuana may be the crux of it all, but he says it’s ultimately cash that’s being traded and fought over.
“The one suspect we talked about yesterday, charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the degree, don’t remember which category felony but a significant felony, and he was released,” said Bello. “So there’s no repercussion to that. Maybe he’ll show up to court later, maybe, we’ll see.”
At a press conference this afternoon, community activists expressed the same frustration with violence on the streets. Wednesday’s particular event called for justice in a recent incident of a 3-year-old shot.
“What are our state leaders, both in the senate and the assembly going to do to tweak these laws so these criminals can’t get back out of jail,” said activist Clay Harris.
Harris added that he’s promoting more faith-based intervention.
“It is time for us to come together and bring the churches back, so any church, any community organization any resources, we want you guys to get involved,” he said.
In the meantime, Bello says they’re going to continue getting alleged violent offenders off the streets.
“That’s what brings up the Roc Initiative that we’ve been working with,” he said. “And some of the decision has been made to take those [arrests] to a federal level when the federal prosecution is much more appropriate,” he said.
Bello said it’s hard to predict how the legalization of marijuana, soon to enter a controlled market in NYS, will affect the streets. He’s hoping this will have a positive effect.
What’s next? The defendants head to trial. Beyond that, the District Attorney’s Office and RPD can not comment further on the investigation.
Mayor Malik Evans also released a statement on Wednesday, in response to the recent developments:
“I am extremely grateful to the Rochester Police Department for executing a thorough and successful investigation into the murder of Officer Mazurkiewicz, which resulted in 18 arrests and the seizure of drugs and nearly two dozen illegal weapons,” said Mayor Evans. “The RPD is working tirelessly with its partners and the City team to address Rochester’s challenges with violence while providing a sense of safety and security to the families and businesses in our neighborhoods.”
A Stop The Violence Town Hall event is scheduled for October 6 at 6 p.m., at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church. The event will host a conversation between faith leaders, Pastors on Point, Faith Alliance, and Baptist Minister’s Alliance.