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Local family describes chaotic scene at Canalside during fireworks

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 23:35:58-04
A fun 4th of July turned chaotic for thousands of people attending the Canalside fireworks last night.
 
Spectators say hundreds of people started running for the exits when reports of shots fired hit the crowd.
 
"People were scared, people were in tears, people were on their phones," said James Clerc, who came down to Canalside with his family to enjoy the fireworks. 
  
The Clerc family was one of those in the crowd who, shortly after the fireworks went off, saw hundreds of people bolting for the exits.
 
"We found a fence people broke down to get out and that's how we got out," said Tera Baker-Clerc, James' wife.
 
7 Eyewitness News obtained cell phone video, which shows people running frantically for the exits.
 
Buffalo Police say they are investigating reports of shots fired, but have not found any shell casings.
 
Robert Goia, Chairman for the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation which runs Canalside writes:
 
"Canalside brought 20,000 people together last night to enjoy a fantastic evening of patriotic fireworks. Unfortunately, the fireworks were delayed due to an electrical interruption that zeroed out the timing mechanism in the software program that is used to launch every firework at an exact time. We thank those in attendance for their patience as the software was transferred by a pyrotechnics expert to another processor and apologize for the unplanned delay.
 
There were also some minor incidents and an unconfirmed report of shots fired. In all cases, Canalside private security, with the help of Buffalo Police and Buffalo Peacemakers, responded quickly to diffuse the situations. Safety is our top priority at Canalside and we have a zero tolerance policy for unruly or risky behavior.

Prior to the fireworks event, Canalside officials held multiple public safety and strategic security planning meetings to coordinate efforts between a wide variety of law enforcement agencies, including federal, state, county, city and the private partners that provide security for Canalside. The plan in place worked to prevent injuries and led to minimal arrests; however, Canalside will be developing an enhanced security plan with the Buffalo Police to further minimize incidents at future major events. All visitors to evening events will continue to be wanded at security checkpoints; security will be maintained in the form of uniformed officers on site and along the perimeter of the site; and trouble makers will be ejected from Canalside. Just like any other large-scale event or venue, Canalside will do everything possible to ensure that visitors from Buffalo and around Western New York continue to enjoy the waterfront they have grown to love."