ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Wednesday, August 10, 2022.
A 26-year-old city resident was shot and killed on Roycroft Drive late Tuesday night, marking the city’s third homicide in the last three days.
According to officials, officers were led to the 300 block of Roycroft Drive around 10:30 p.m. for the report of a person shot. A male was found at the location with gunshot wounds to the upper body.
The 26-year-old victim was transported to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries shortly after. His identity has yet to be revealed by investigators and there are no suspects in custody.
Since the death of a 68-year-old man who was attacked at a homeless shelter on Sunday, Rochester has seen as many homicides as days past. That includes the death of a 16-year-old boy identified as Jaquise Davis. He was fatally shot and killed late Monday night on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Growing gun violence has claimed the lives of 47 people this year, just two less compared to this period in 2021 when the city recorded the highest homicide total in its history.
Rochester Mayor Malik Evans addressed the community following the shooting death of Davis.
“We cannot have people congregating at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock in the morning, thinking they can do whatever the heck they want in the city of Rochester, endangering neighbors and innocent people,” Evans said. “Not going to tolerate it.”
The mayor’s gun violence emergency order declaration was issued 20 days ago. Since then, there have been a total of six deaths as a result of stabbings or shootings.
In a bid to target violent hot spots in the city, his administration vouched to work with local business owners to ensure they are not playing into the crime trend. If they refuse to “start a conversation,” the business will be at risk of a turn to the State Supreme Court to fast-track a closure.
The Rochester Police Major Crimes Unit is actively working to determine what led to Tuesday’s Roycroft Drive shooting. Anyone with additional details is asked to call 911.
The Rochester City School District held a public session on the school safety plan for this academic year Tuesday night. The district says it is “committed to the safety and preparedness of its students, staff, and visitors.”
Each school in the district has a “Building-Level Emergency Response Plan” (BLERP) developed by respective principals and coordinated with first responders.
Charles Cutler, an Emergency Response Coordinator for the district, says the security plan has not changed dramatically for this upcoming school year, however… “(There’s) an emphasis on the situations that have occurred around the country, and situational awareness,” he said.
The mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas is still present in the headlines and fresh in minds. Cutler says the key is learning from mistakes made there — and ensuring they never happen here.
“It’s everyone working together to take care of the kids,” said Cutler.
The security plan for this year includes things like:
- Training, drills, and exercises
- Having security personnel either on-site or having a relationship/plan with the police
- Video surveillance at every building
- Intrusion detection
- Early detection of violent behaviors.
“What we really focus on is a team approach, it’s not just the safety team. It’s parents, teachers, school staff,” said James Sheppard, RCSD Director of Safety and Security.
Sheppard says everyone has a role to play in students’ safety. He says the past twenty-plus years — from Columbine to Uvalde — show you can’t relax when it comes to safety.
“You’ve got to stay current. You’ve got to stay up on current events, new technology. I think we’ve done a wonderful job of doing that,” he says.
Cutler says their mission is to ensure kids can learn and teachers can teach. “They’re our kids. They’re our future. Taking care of our students is our priority,” said Cutler.
Public comment is open on this matter until August 13th. The Board is due to vote on the security plan on August 25th. You can read the full RCSD security action plan here.
The District-Wide School Safety Plan is reviewed annually by the District-Wide Safety Team under the guidance of the Superintendent or designated Chief Emergency Officer.
Crystal Lenear has been working at House of Mercy for nearly 30 years, as a security monitor assistant.
She said she’s familiar with Nathaniel Jeanpierre III, the man facing charges for murder.
“He has mental issues, yes, he was going through things, we tried to comfort him and tell him, ‘you don’t have to be afraid here we got your back,’” she said.
She said Jeanpierre would have outbursts at times.
After nearly 30 years of working at the shelter, Lenear said it’s not uncommon for her to feel unsafe at times. Sometimes even threats, in which Lenear will report to administration and head security.
“Someone lately said they were going to burn down the House of Mercy, and I told the director Tammy Butler, who told me to go to the shelter monitor to see what the problem could be, and the man said ‘he’s on drugs,’ but the point is if you’re on drugs you still want to call the FIT team and whoever else can help him,” said Lenear.
Leaner said there is a metal detector at the entrance, and staff do check bags. But, recent issues with staffing have affected nighttime operations.
“We are understaffed at night. Daytime, it’s full of staff. But nighttime, we barely have any people. That’s where we need help at,” she said.
News 8 reached out to the administration with House of Mercy to discuss security concerns, and a recent transition in leadership. We are still awaiting a response.
For the time being, Monroe County is assisting nearly 80 residents who have been displaced. The shelter is closed for the time being, as part of an ongoing investigation.
Residents have been moved to a few different locations, including MLK Park and Salvation Army. Additionally, mental health services and substance abuse services are being provided to residents through the Monroe County Dept. of Human Services.
Lenear said after a traumatic incident like this, staff need all the help they can get too.
“We do need support a lot of support, sometimes we have problems and we bring it to work,” she said.
United Way has reached out to the shelter, offering up their own assistance for trauma and grief support. Jennifer Kathy, Chief Impact Officer with United Way says their work is about connecting agencies who have that expertise to staff who need it.
“We’re still waiting to hear back,” Kathy said. “We know the community wants to help, wrap their arms help around, often times that’s overwhelming for a small agency to accept all of that help.”
She says whenever staff are ready to have these conversations, they want to be prepared.
“Just a safe space to be able to express what they’re feeling, what it was like to observe that, the challenges seeing so many people displaced,” said Kathy.
United Way connects staff to agencies like Coordinated Care Services.
“The agencies are the experts,” said Kathy. “They’re the ones that are most trained, closest to the consumers, individuals, or residents in this case, so we defer to them and their expertise,” she said.
“What’s often overlooked are the staff helping community members everyday,” said Kathy. “And the staff that experience vicarious trauma after trying to support those that are struggling. But often, they go home to their own traumas, maybe a violent neighborhood or struggling to make ends meet, the trauma of poverty.”
Rochester Mayor Malik Evans provided an update on the city’s gun violence emergency order Tuesday afternoon, alongside several community leaders.
Nearly 20 days have passed since the mayor declared a gun violence state of emergency. In that time, the city has seen five homicides, including the shooting death of a Rochester police officer.
The most recent homicide involved a 16-year-old boy who was shot dead near the 400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue just hours before the conference started.
Evans started by saying that he will continue to provide periodic updates as long as the state of emergency order is in place.
“Gun violence is like a public health crisis, so I will update folks every other week,” Evans said, adding that he would provide additional updates “from time to time” as needed. “I will tell you that I have seen success in using this order, as it relates to businesses that have been related to scenes of, where we’ve had violence.”
The emergency order allows the mayor to control the presence of persons on public streets and places along with having the power to shut down a particular street. Evans said at the press conference that one location has been closed down as a result of the order so far, and one “modified.”
He highlighted that the Rochester Police Department has been targeting “micro hotspots” where violence is more prevalent, such as North Clinton Avenue.
Additional neighborhoods that Evans said are seeing “disproportionate numbers of violence” in comparison to the rest of the city include the zip code 14605, North Clinton Avenue, and the Lyell Avenue area.
“Those are on our radar and we are spending lots of time and resources in those areas,” he said.
Evans described the city’s approach to reducing violence as a three-pronged approach: Prevention, intervention, and suppression. He described the executive order as both “a carrot and a stick.”
“We’re going to work with business or places, if they’re doing the right thing, and [if] they’re going to help us combat negative behavior,” he explained. “We’re going to work with them. But if they’re not, we are going to close them down.”
He said initially, the city will reach out to the business to “start a conversation,” to voluntarily make changes. But if the business does not comply, Evans said the city will turn to the state Supreme Court to fast-track the closure of certain businesses, as part of the executive order.
Evans warned against large, unsanctioned gatherings in particular, especially if a business is involved.
“That’s not what we want to do… [but] we cannot have people congregating at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock in the morning, thinking they can do whatever the heck they want in the city of Rochester, endangering neighbors and innocent people,” Evans said. “Not going to tolerate it.”
Evans said some businesses have already been quietly closed down due to their lack of compliance following a reported incident. “We worked with a third business owner to make necessary changes in that area to ensure the safety of the patrons and residents,” he said.
“We’ve had way too many homicides and shots fired incidences in the City of Rochester this year,” President of Rochester City Council Miguel Meléndez said at the conference. “It pains me every time I wake up in the morning to the news that something else has occurred in our community.”
Just one day into the state of emergency on July 21, Rochester Police Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz was shot and killed in the line of duty during an evening patrol along Bauman Street.
He was laid to rest following a city-wide procession and funeral outside the Blue Cross Arena. There, those close to Mazurkiewicz, including colleagues, police partners and his four kids, who all spoke on the behalf of the 29-year-veteran.
Meléndez said that City Council is looking for community organizations either currently working to prevent violence or interested in assisting the city’s public safety goals. “We need to continue to push for community collaboration,” he said.
The Chief of RPD David Smith shared more specific actions taken as a result of the emergency order, as well as some relevant data and numbers. In addition to discussing expanded operations, Smith provided an update on the attempts to get ATVs and other illegal off-road vehicles off the streets.
Year-to-date, Smith said RPD has seized 28 ATVs (two of which were stolen), 39 dirt bikes, 18 minibikes, and 2 mopeds. Turning to weapons, Smith said that 367 handguns and 108 long guns were seized this year.
According to the Rochester Police Department’s open portal database, the city is trailing behind last year’s record-setting homicide rate by just two, something that Smith touched on.
Evans also brought Commissioner of the Department of Recreation and Human Services Dr. Shirley Green to highlight the work being done outside of law enforcement to prevent violence. Dr. Green highlighted the many events happening throughout the summer.
“We continue to focus on keeping our young people engaged in meaningful, productive places that are safe for our citizens,” Dr. Green said. She also highlighted that 745 students have been placed in summer jobs this year, with an addition 160 in a violence prevention program.
The last to speak was Special Advisor to the Mayor on Violence Prevention Services Victor Saunders, who spearheads a brand new violence prevention initiative. Like Meléndez, Saunders put out a call for grassroots, “boots on the grounds” organizations that may be interested in working with the city.
“If I could just say this: All the stuff that we’re doing here? It’s not going to solve everything,” Evans said at the end of the conference. “The stuff that we’re doing here is not going to stop two people who don’t like what someone else said on Facebook, so they decide to meet up at a large gathering and start having a fight. And instead of fighting with their hands, they decide to pull out a gun and shoot each other, and then injure other people and themselves. All this stuff is not going to stop that type of nonsense. And I want to be clear, we still have a lot of that nonsense going on in our community. And I don’t want people to think that the Mayor of Rochester — or any of our community partners — are going to be able to stop a lot of the stuff that involves hearts and minds and conversations […] So we continue to ask the community to make sure that you talk it out before you pick up a gun and start firing at someone.”
We start cool and end near average Wednesday as highs settle into the low 80s and upper 70s. There is a weak low pressure system set to pass north Wednesday night into Thursday.