Afternoon News Brief
Written by Doug Thompson on May 19, 2022
Self-proclaimed racist and white supremacist Payton Gendron appeared in Erie County Courthouse this morning for a felony hearing on charges of first-degree murder; some of his victim’s family members were in attendance. So far, he is charged with first-degree murder, to which he pleaded ‘not guilty’ at his arraignment on Saturday night – just hours after he had live-streamed the attack at TOPS on social media. Authorities — including the FBI — continue to investigate the possibility of adding hate crime and terrorism charges. This morning, Gendron remained silent as Erie County Assistant District Attorney Gary Hackbush said the indictment by a grand jury for the mass murder of 10 people had been handed up. Gendron did not react when and was brought back to jail surrounded by several law enforcement officers. Eleven of his 13 victims were Black, including all 10 who died, and they ranged in age from 20 to 86. As Gendron was escorted out of the court following the brief hearing, one of the relatives shouted at him, “Payton, you’re a coward.” The next hearing is set for June 9th.
The specific dining places that will each occupy a building in the parking lot of the vacant Kmart have not been announced publicly, but the nearly 11,000 (10,700-plus) square-foot project itself has site plan approval from town planners. The board also has approved a negative declaration on the State Environmental Quality Review, which just means there is no significant environmental impact anticipated although traffic continues to be a concern. One question in the Review asked whether the proposal would lead to a harmful change in the existing traffic or existing infrastructure for mass transit, biking or walking. The finding was, that there would be no change or that a small impact may occur. These findings are consistent with findings from a traffic study the town had completed. The town board remained open to future traffic studies, if needed or if circumstances change; for example, if something is done with the Kmart building.
Genesee Community College plans to return to full in-person graduation ceremonies this weekend. Seating arrangements will be similar to pre-pandemic ceremonies, and as of now, masks are welcome, but not required. Under the State University of New York’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement, all students participating in commencement must be fully vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption from the college. Guests are not required to be vaccinated. GCC’s 54th commencement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. this Saturday in the college’s Richard C. Call Arena. The ceremony is expected to last about 90 minutes. United Memorial Medical Center President Daniel Ireland, an alumnus of GCC, will be the keynote speaker. Ireland completed his associate degree in nursing from there in 1992. H went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNY Brockport in 1994 and a master’s in business administration degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1997.
35-year-old Stephen Bogle of Batavia, is charged with grand larceny in the third degree and falsifying business records. Bogle is accused of going to his place of employment on Bank Street, punching in, then leaving for eight to 12 hours, then returning to punch out, without ever physically being present at work. He is accused of stealing over $13,000 ($13,148.63) as a result of this scheme. He was arraigned in City Court and released on his own recognizance.
You’ll recall the standoff with police and the threat of the use of explosives on December 26th in Stafford…Well, the initially uncooperative individual was Christopher Say of Stafford, and he has now been indicted on counts of assault in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon, attempted arson, making a terroristic threat, and criminal mischief. Say is accused of using brass knuckles to cause serious injury to another person. He also attempted to start a fire to damage a detached garage at the Main Road location. He is accused of damaging the property of another person in excess of $1,000 in value and also accused of threatening several troopers, deputies, and firefighters and damaging an armored police vehicle.
Americans can now order eight more free, at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests. This brings the total number of free test kits offered to 16 per household after families had other opportunities to order free tests in January and March. During that January rollout, nearly half of the 500 million free COVID-19 tests made available to Americans were left unclaimed as of the end of February. To date, the Biden administration says it has delivered approximately 350 million free tests by mail. Households that already received tests during the first two rounds of orders are eligible to receive another shipment of four tests.
Gerald Brinson Jr., 33, of Rochester, is charged with burglary 2nd, grand larceny 4th, criminal mischief 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, endangering the welfare of a child, falsely reporting an incident 3rd, and menacing 2nd. At 9:30 a.m., May 17, Emergency Dispatch received a call of a disturbance and burglary in progress at a residence on Oak Street. Brinson is accused of entering the residence of a woman he knew and attacking her. According to Batavia PD, he was wanted on a gun case in Monroe County. When patrols arrived, officers determined the victim and her year-old son had escaped from the residence but Brinson was still inside, refusing to exit. Officers from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, NYS Police, and NYS Environmental Conservation arrived to assist. While Brinson Jr was inside the residence, he allegedly called in a fake report of gunfire on Ellicott Avenue. Eventually, Brinson Jr came out of the residence and was taken into custody. Brinson was arraigned in City Court and ordered held on $25,0000 bail, $50,000 bond, or $100,000 partially secured bond.
Governor Hochul is taking a series of steps to try and prevent another deadly mass shooting like the one that happened in Buffalo. The governor issued an executive order yesterday calling on the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to establish a new unit that is dedicated solely to the prevention of domestic terrorism. Another executive order will require State Police to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order under the state’s Red Flag Law when they have probable cause to believe an individual is a threat to themselves or others. The governor is also urging lawmakers to tighten up some of the state’s gun laws before the end of this year’s legislative session in June.
A 911 dispatcher has been placed on leave after being accused of hanging up on someone who was inside the Tops store at the time of Saturday’s shooting. According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the dispatcher allegedly asked the caller why they were whispering before disconnecting. Poloncarz says the dispatcher didn’t follow protocol and acted inappropriately. A hearing on the incident is scheduled for May 30th and Poloncarz says the county will look to fire the dispatcher. (Pictured: Latisha Rogers, assistant office manager at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, who claims she was hung up on when she called 911 as accused gunman Payton Genrdon, 18, opened fire throughout the store on Saturday.)
The Niagara County District Attorney’s Office says a Newfane man is facing manslaughter and other charges in connection with the death of a pedestrian. Prosecutors say 20-year-old Sean Kelahan has been indicted following an incident that happened March 18th in Lockport. Police arrived at the intersection of Transit Road and High Street and found that 25-year-old Richard Howes the third had been struck by multiple vehicles and killed. Kelahan was ordered held on 100-thousand dollars bail.
The public is welcome to attend a community meeting on 7 p.m. May 25 to get an update on a new pedestrian bridge in Brockport over the Erie Canal. The meeting will be at the Village of Brockport Courthouse, 49 State St., and will include representatives from the New York Power Authority, NYS Canal Corporation, Village of Brockport and SUNY Brockport. The officials will discuss the project timeline, present design renderings, and answers questions from the community. The new bridge will be constructed adjacent to an existing Erie Canal guard gate. The new pedestrian bridge will connect the SUNY Brockport campus to the Empire State Trail. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2023, according to the Canal Corporation.
The Buffalo Common Council has announced the appointment of 11 new members to the city’s Police Advisory Committee. The group will be responsible for working alongside people in the community and developing policy changes that will be presented to the Buffalo Police Department. The council disbanded the original board that was chosen due to resignations and arguments. The new version of the committee is planning to hold its first meeting in the coming weeks.
A bus monitor with the Greece Central School District is in trouble with the law after being accused of choking a student. According to police, the incident involving 70-year-old Alonzo Peritore and the seven-year-old child happened on Monday. The child’s parents notified police after their son claimed he was choked on his way home from school. The district put Peritore on leave Tuesday. He’s been arrested, released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to face a judge again June 14th.
Republicans in the New York State Assembly want Governor Hochul and state leaders to convene a meeting of the state’s domestic terrorism task force. The request comes following Saturday’s violence in Buffalo and last month’s shooting in the New York City subway system that left several people hurt. The panel was created in 2020 as part of that year’s state budget and is made up of the State Police superintendent, the Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services and people appointed by the governor and Legislature. The group is required to meet at least four times a year but has never gathered.