BUFFALO, N.Y. — Just days ahead of the one year mark since the mass shooting on May 14, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said safety will be a top priority.
“There is going to be a very comprehensive security plan, so it will be heightened in the community,” Brown said. “It will be high at all of these events to ensure people's comfort and safety.”
His statement came just 24 hours after 33-year-old Daniel Parson was arrested and charged with making threats in or affecting interstate commerce. The U.S. Attorney's office said the North Carolina native made calls to Buffalo Police in the early hours of May 3 revealing plans to conduct a mass shooting at an unspecified Tops location.
He also threatened to “shoot up” a fellowship church and “slaughter” a specific family in Buffalo.
The threats turned the attention of security experts, like former Buffalo Police captain Jeff Rinaldo, to possible copycats.
“A copycat attack is always concerning, especially when somebody actually made a verbal threat but law enforcement is prepared to handle situations like that,” Rinaldo said. “I think what we saw in this case, there was a very swift investigation that led to an arrest.”
The former Buffalo police captain also said while copycat attacks do not happen frequently, law enforcement will be extremely diligent in the planning and preparation of of this week's events.
He anticipates additional stationed security officers, weapon detection systems and a team monitoring social media for any potential threats online.
A spokesperson from the Buffalo Police Department also informed 2 On Your Side that there will be additional support from departments around the region and state.
“Real-time communication, real-time intelligence to the officers that are assigned to these events is what creates that safety envelope that you're looking for,” Rinaldo said.
Tops provided a statement on the recent threat and heightened security:
"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority. At Tops, we always take every threat seriously and work with law enforcement on all matters.
"After last year’s tragic mass shooting, Tops did a complete assessment of all stores to ensure every location was safe and secure, implementing additional measures where needed. This important work has allowed us to deepen our focus on serving the needs of our community."
With these additional measures, Rinaldo says the city can ensure that honoring and remembering the 10 we lost just a year ago will be the only thing on those in attendance's minds.