ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Two suspects, including a teenager, were arrested on assault charges Thursday after a 3-year-old boy was struck by gunfire during a shootout on N. Clinton Avenue.
Rochester Police heard gunfire in the area of N. Clinton Avenue in the Clifford Avenue area around 6 p.m. Wednesday. A short time later, a 3-year-old victim was brought to Rochester General Hospital with at least one gunshot wound to the upper body and eventually went into surgery.
Authorities say the toddler is in stable, but critical condition as of Thursday morning.
Investigators determined the boy was sitting in a car seat, parked outside a nearby grocery store when he was caught in the crossfire between at least two shooters.
Police say the pair were among several people who ran from officers but were eventually the only ones charged. They were identified as 34-year-old Travis Lewis and an unnamed 16-year-old.
According to Rochester Police Chief David Smith, who provided an update on the suspects during a Thursday morning press conference, both arrestees discarded loaded handguns as they ran from police. Chief Smith said the 16-year-old was wearing body armor and was found with a quantity of fentanyl.
Both the teenager and Lewis were charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon upon arrest. Officials say the teen was arraigned and sent to a children’s detention center on $50,000 bail. Lewis pleaded not guilty to these charges.
When addressing the charges, Chief Smith noted that Lewis was most recently arrested in March of 2021 and was charged with assault in the second degree after an alleged shootout on Dove Street.
According to the chief, he was held and eventually released in March 2021, on a $5,000 bail bond. He was convicted two months later.
“Judges need to have the power and authority to hold people of they are dangerous,” Smith said. “There is no dangerousness standard in New York like the one found federally.”
Lewis remained out on the street, as his sentencing was delayed for alleged medical reasons related to his gunshot wound, court documents show. He was previously convicted of robbery in 2007 and sentenced to nine years.
“To know that the shooter was a convicted felon who should’ve been in jail, but was out on the streets because he somehow still waiting for sentencing,” Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said. “If you’re not outraged, then you are not paying attention.”
During the news conference, the chief took aim at what he believes are dangerous loopholes in the criminal justice system.
“In 28 homicide arrests this year, eight of the victims were killed by parolees, and 80% of all homicide victims were killed by illegal firearms,” Chief Smith said.
“What we witnessed here and why we’re standing here are individuals that have held this community hostage,” Mayor Malik Evans said during a press conference on the night of the shootout. “And when I say this community, I mean this stretch of North Clinton Avenue.”
Chief Smith said police will have a “constant presence” along N. Clinton Avenue throughout the upcoming weekend. He said 12-hour work days will be mandated for officers beginning Thursday.
“I have done more overtime than any other chief in this department’s history,” Chief Smith said. “That’s not to say anything more than that we are facing a shortage. I hear ‘bring the national guard in all the time’ but the national guard has another job, they’re not police officers.'” I can run down a list as long as my arm on ways they’re not qualified.”
“I can spend money on police. We can coordinate with our partners, but all of that is not going to change hearts and minds of individuals who have such anger in their heart that they think that it’s okay to shoot in broad daylight with police officers on patrol streets over,” Evans said. “At some point, we have to say ‘when are people going to be held accountable for those types of things.'”
The mayor and police chief both spoke about the proliferation of illegal guns on the streets as a problem in addressing violence in the city. Chief Smith said the RPD has confiscated more than 600 guns so far this year.
“We need to send a message that if you carry an illegal gun, that’s it,” Evans said. “You’re not just gonna be able to walk and be comfortable. We need to make it very uncomfortable for people in this community to carry illegal guns.”
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello on Thursday during a press conference said he will assist the Rochester Police Department by providing additional resources to the police, such as having extra cars available to respond to ShotSpotter activations and violent crime.
“The system must require dangerous people with guns who are hell-bent on opening fire on our streets to be held in custody,” Bello said in a press conference.
Thursday afternoon press conference
Thursday morning press conference
Wednesday night press conference
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.