ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Thursday, June 30, 2022.


Brockport police investigating rock thrown into home as hate crime

Officers with the Brockport Police Department are investigating a hate crime after a rock was thrown into a home displaying a pride flag.

Allison Parry-Gurak and her wife have lived in the Brockport community for eight years and said they have never seen an incident like this happen before. It’s also not the first recent incident.

“We chose to do a pride flag this year because it’s important my boys see that this is us, this is our life, this is who we are and, unfortunately, this is also part of it,” Parry-Gurak said.

The mom of two is staying home from work Wednesday to install security cameras outside her home. Sometime in the overnight hours, a rock was thrown through the first-floor double-paned window.

“This morning, my wife had gotten up to go take the kids to daycare and she went outside and she said that the window was broken. She came back inside and yelled up the stairs for me — I came down and we had noticed that the window was broken, there’s a rock over there. This flag right here was thrown on the ground,” Parry-Gurak said.

“We’re investigating as a hate crime and when we do so, you have to establish the cause of the suspect as to why they targeted a certain home, and in this case, we feel it is due to the progressive pride flag,” said Brockport police Sargent Robert Hagen.

Parry-Gurak is keeping a positive attitude with plans to make this a teachable moment for her kids. She also said the family is not planning to move [“No way, I love my home!”], and the pride decorations are staying up.

A situation less than a week ago next door, however, is causing concern.

“So our neighbor over here next door on, I think it was Friday into Saturday so that overnight hours — she had her pride flag ripped down as well,” Parry-Gurak said. “It had done some damage to their garage siding.”

“My fear is that it’s going to escalate,” she said. “I think that it started from a flag being ripped off from our neighbor’s and now it’s being escalated to a rock being thrown through our window, so I do have a fear it’s going to escalate. However, I trust our community that surrounds me.”

As far as the monetary impact this incident has had, Allison is getting a quote for the window and screen this week. That security camera system, however, just cost her about $500. In the immediate aftermath of this ordeal, Parry-Gurak is feeling a range of emotions.

“I feel a little adrenaline going and a little discombobulated today just because I think I’ve gone through all the stages,” she said. “You know I was really sad this morning, I was angry. I’m also feeling hopeful because, like I said, the community is surrounding us right now and I don’t feel this was personally an attack on me. I think it was an attack on my community, unfortunately.”

Officials with the Brockport Police Department say they are increasing patrols in the area.

‘Light at the end of the rainbow’: Palmyra ice cream shop burglarized

A long-time ice cream shop in Palmyra was the scene of a burglary on Monday.

The Chill and Grill Ice Cream shop has been around for 26 years, and up until this point, had never dealt with any crime towards their business.

The shop is a staple in the Palmyra community. It’s heralded as, among other things, a place where most kids in town get their first job. Owner Jeff Stevens said he has been operating the shop for over two decades, raising all three of his kids at the shop with fond memories.

“I remember the kids standing on a milk crate at the register ringing customers because they couldn’t see over it,” Stevens said. “It was awesome.”

When Stevens came to work on Monday to find the front door to his shop shattered, he was heartbroken.

“As soon as I walked in the door, I knew something was wrong,” he said. “There was a mess on the floor and I was like, ‘Okay, that’s unusual.’ And I see the safe’s gone. I take one step and I noticed the glass is broken on the door, and the doors all smashed down. They tried to get the ATM first. They just didn’t succeed with that. And then they just went on to grab whatever they could get their hands on.”

Employee payroll, tips, and two days’ worth of revenue were all in the safe box that was stolen, costing thousands of dollars.

Luckily, Stevens used to own a security company and has his shop decked out with cameras.

“They want in, then they want it,” he said. “They were here for four and a half minutes total. They weren’t here for very long.”

Stevens posted the video to the shop’s Facebook page, gaining over 1,000 shares and 68,000 views in just under two days.

“There’s a light at the end of the rainbow because the community that came together for us was amazing,” he said. “They’re trying to donate money to us, which we don’t want. But it was just amazing to see the community come together like that. And that kind of actually turned me right around, I’m in better spirits now.”

Despite Stevens having lost thousands, he said he doesn’t want to take donations from the community, he wants to give back to the community.

“We’re going to have a pink sprinkle day to represent our hearts. To thank everybody, you’re going to get free sprinkles on everything,” he said. “That’s what we’ve always been about. We give back to the community and that’s how my family is. The community gives to us by being our customers. So, we’re the winners in the end.”

Free pink sprinkle day is happening June 30 at the Chill and Grill located at 616 East Main Street in Palmyra.

Rochester man awarded Carnegie Medal for saving life of local restaurant owner

A Rochester man has been awarded the Carnegie Medal, a recognition given to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree in saving or attempting to save the lives of others. 

32-year-old Darnell Wilson put his life on the line three years ago, when he came to the rescue of a well-known, local business owner during an attempted robbery. 

The incident took place on the night of December 23rd, 2019, when Evangela (Van) Stanley was getting ready to close her restaurant People’s Choice Kitchen on Brooks Avenue.

“I actually sold out a little early, so a gentleman came to my door, he was hungry, so I went in, made him a plate of food, and as I was exiting the door to hand him the food,” Van recalls. “A few minutes later, another guy was coming from the opposite direction and he was yelling at me, and I’m like, ‘I can’t make out what you’re saying.”

Stanley said the man had his sweatshirt pulled tight around his face and he started running towards her. She fled towards the back of her restaurant, calling for help from her friend Darnell, who had been hanging out at the store that day. 

“I’m like, ‘What’s going on? This is not happening,’ and I really was like, ‘there’s a robbery going on right now,’” Stanley said. “As I ran inside, Darnell was running towards my voice, and I was running to get away from danger.”

Stanley went to hide in the basement to call 911, while Wilson ran towards the suspect. He said at that moment, his instincts just took over.

“I ran towards the assailant and just went to work,” Wilson said. “I saw him in the dining room and fought the guy towards the front door, and then he pulled out a gun and he let off two shots, and at that point, I took him through the window, took the gun from him, and then me and the cook guy fought him off.”

Wilson said he wasn’t thinking too much about his own safety in the moment until he heard those gunshots.

“Then I thought of my son and I was like, ‘Oh no, not tonight. I am not going down tonight,’” Wilson said. “It took everything in me to fight the assailant off.”

After a few minutes of scuffle, the suspect fled. He left Wilson with a few lacerations, but Stanley with a grateful heart. She now calls Wilson, who she has known for over a decade, her “guardian angel.”

“It means the world to me because Darnell risked it all, he put his life on the line for me. He didn’t think twice about jumping into action. There’s not many people that would do that,” Stanley said. “If I had a million dollars, I’d give it to him.”

For his actions that night, Wilson was awarded the Carnegie Medal, one of North America’s highest civilian honors for heroism. He is one of 16 people who received the recognition this year. 

“It honestly hasn’t even hit me yet, but I feel truly honored. I really do,” Wilson said. “I was happy to be here that night. I love Van very much.”

According to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission website, more than 10,000 medals have been awarded to date and the recipients of the award have been selected from more than 100,000 nominees. About 20 percent of the Medals are awarded posthumously.

Wilson says while he wasn’t expecting the award, he hopes his story helps the community understand that violence is never the answer.

“We need to come together and not destroy each other, especially because she’s (Van) giving out free food, and helping out the community a lot, so this isn’t a place that should be targeted. No place should be targeted, but this definitely shouldn’t be a place to be targeted,” he said.

Stanley said Wilson is currently looking for employment and she hopes this story of his bravery shines a light on what a good employee and coworker he’d be. 

As for the gunman, he was later arrested after fleeing the scene and pleaded guilty in court to attempted robbery. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 29 and could face up to 8 years in prison.

Road to 500 miles: Red Wings walking 24/7 for mental health in Rochester

Six days, 500 miles, nonstop — all in the name of mental health awareness.

The Rochester Red Wings are nearly at the halfway line of completing their Intentional Walk Thursday. Less than 250 miles stand in the way of baseball team staff and their goal to raise funds for mental health.

For about a week straight, until the final out of the team’s home game on Sunday, July 3, full-time and part-time staff members run are walking continuously on treadmills set up at Frontier Field. All money raised will benefit NAMI Rochester and the Mental Health Association of Rochester.

“The overnight shift crew has not gotten much sleep these days, you could imagine,” said General Manager Dan Mason while walking Thursday. “We’ll keep the ball rolling, however, to support mental health.

Fans can follow the walk to 500 miles using the 24/7 live steam posted on the team’s website.

For those who want to help the cause can do so with online or in-person donations, and by purchasing a $10 ticket to walk on the treadmill for 10 miles.

NAMI Rochester and the Mental Health Association of Rochester both provide a variety of support, outreach, and advocacy programs for people struggling with mental health.

‘Visionary leader’ John Visentin, Xerox Vice Chairman and CEO passes away

Officials from Xerox Holdings Corporation announced Wednesday that vice chairman and CEO John Visentin, passed away on Tuesday due to complications of an illness.

Xerox officials said they are saddened by Visentin’s passing and extend their condolences to Visentin’s wife, children, and family.

John Visentin joined Xerox in May 2018 and was described as “a visionary leader who navigated the company through unprecedented times and challenges.”ADVERTISING

“Since joining the company in May 2018, John drove Xerox forward, said James Nelson, the Chairman of Xerox’s Board of Directors. “As a champion for innovation, he embraced and enhanced Xerox’s legacy as a print and services provider and embarked on a transformative journey that broadened the company’s expertise and offerings to digital and IT services, financial services and disruptive technologies.

Steve Bandrowczak, the president and Chief Operations Officer of Xerox, announced he will serve as the Interim CEO.

“We are all greatly saddened by this tragic news and are keeping his family at the forefront of our thoughts in this difficult time,” said Bandrowczak. “John’s vision was clear, and the Xerox team will continue fulfilling it — not only to deliver on our commitments to our shareholders, customers, and partners — but also to pursue John’s legacy.”

News 8 WROC anchor Mark Gruba says goodbye after 10 years

Longtime News 8 WROC anchor Mark Gruba is leaving the network after more than 10 years, signing off on Wednesday’s noon broadcast.

Mark, originally from New Jersey, spent a decade hosting the network’s morning show at 5 and 6 a.m. Mark’s ability to share compelling stories over the air with an uplifting spirit and relentless attention to detail placed him at the heart of those around him and the City of Rochester.

With his voice engraved in the forever history of News 8, Mark departs from the station he joined in 2011 with plans to spend time with his wife Dawn and three children Holly, Drew and Ashley.

Thank you for all of the memories you leave behind and the stories you told.

The doors at 201 Humboldt Street will always be open to Mark Gruba.

Weather forecast: Heat kicking back in Thursday

Sunshine dominates our forecast with high temperatures climbing into the middle and upper 80s. Humidity will still be under control, so this will be sort of a “dry” heat that doesn’t feel as oppressive.