BUFFALO, NY - The mayor of New York State’s second largest city once again found himself publicly denouncing violence after the city’s latest homicide.
The victim was, according to Mayor Byron Brown, the mother of 5 children, and the unintended target of the shooting which occurred in broad daylight in front of several witnesses on Butler Avenue Thursday afternoon.
“This was an innocent victim,” said Brown, of the woman identified by police as 31-year-old Lakendra Tillmon, who they say was sitting in a car with a male companion and three children under the age of ten when gunfire came from another vehicle.
Police, according to sources, believe Tillmon’s male companion was the target of the shooter who missed him and hit her.
“This is just absolutely unacceptable and intolerable," Brown said.
What Is The Mayor Doing?
“We've increased police patrols in areas where there's been shootings, and we’ve asked the community for their help," Brown said, when asked what he was doing to stem street violence.
Brown, who has also thrown his support behind anti violence programs, gun buy backs, and reward funds to solve crimes, says the largest impediment to stemming violence remains the unwillingness of some to come forward to police with information they may know about crimes.
“The greatest initiative is community cooperation, community sharing of information," said Brown. “When the community shares information these crimes get solved and the people responsible go to jail."
Brown insists his administration has done many things in an attempt to stem shootings and homicides, including efforts to foster the willingness of witnesses to come forward.
“We fund the Peacemakers organization, I've met with the new Most Valuable Parents organization that is reaching out to young people in the community and reaching out to families in the community… I've walked door to door before shootings and after shootings. I've even provided information about jobs and employment opportunities."
Treating Violence as an Epidemic
“There is no sense of talking about economic development in a city where people would be hesitant to move," said Common Council President Darius Pridgen, who took to social media to express his outrage, saying the city needs to treat violence as an epidemic.
Reached by telephone, Pridgen told 2 On Your Side that along with encouraging people to come forward with information about crimes that have been committed, it may be more important to foster trust between the police and residents of the city, so they may feel comfortable coming forward with information - even before crimes occur.
"I heard there was fighting with females on Butler all last week, but I heard it after the young lady was dead,” said Pridgen. “At the end of the day there was some information that was available before someone was dead and we have to get to a place of prevention more than reaction."
Asking For Help Once Again
"We know that there were people around when the shooting occurred yesterday and we're appealing… we're begging… for people to come forward with that information so we can solve this terrible crime," said Brown.
“We have to be realistic though,” said Pridgen. “If I live next door to a homicide and I saw it, when everyone leaves the scene I'm still there, in that neighborhood, possibly in fear for my own life...we have to take it into account.”
Pridgen suggested that can only be overcome through increased community policing efforts, in order to build trust in residents for their police, and instill faith in them that they will be protected.
"I've done everything from put my money where my mouth is through my organization and my churches…and personally. But most of all what I'm doing about it, is not being silent," Pridgen said.
You can anonymously report a tip to the Buffalo Police Department on line, or by phone using the confidential Tip Line at 716-847-2255, or by texting the same number.