BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — One of the factors 7 News has focused on, related to the mass shooting is that the Jefferson Avenue Tops location is in the middle of a food desert.
With the market closed, people in the neighborhood have few places to turn.
The nearest grocery store is two miles away, which is either an Aldi or a Price Rite.
The closest Tops is three miles away even further for the nearest Wegman's.
There are a few grocery stores surrounding the area but the Tops Market on Elmwood Avenue is a superstore, just like the one on Jefferson, meaning people are able to not buy groceries, but prescriptions too.
From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, residents can find a Niagara Scenic Tours shuttle picking up and dropping off residents of the Buffalo's east side, after a trip to Tops on the north side.
"Tops Market after this tragedy knew how much of a hardship it would be for the community who utilize that Tops on a regular basis to get to another Tops in the area," Niagara Scenic Tours professional motorcoach operator, Tommy Seay said.
The ride is about 20 minutes, one-way to the Tops Market on Elmwood.
If residents took a bus from this location to the Elmwood location, it would require three buses which would dedicate most of day to traveling somewhere that is only 5 miles away.
"At Jefferson and Riley, you'd have to take the 18 Jefferson bus, to Delavan College Station. Then you have to take either a 26 to the West Side to Elmwood. Then, you got to take a 20 to get up here. That's three buses," Seay said. We're running the shuttle probably every 45 minutes to an hour. Once we drop off at the Tops on Elmwood, we like to give the shoppers 45 minutes to an hour to get back to the pickup point."
Tommy Seay said this the most efficient route for the shuttle to travel. This is because the Buffalo native grew up on this very same street in the 60s.
"Those were the glory days of that Jefferson Strip. There was not a vacant lot or empty building on that strip," he said.
The-now Grand Island resident shared fond moments with Pheben Kassahun and his time in band, from when he attended East High School, in the neighborhood.
"I played there with my friend, Heyward Patterson who was one of the 10 gunned down. We were in the same band together," he said. "Just a good person all around. There was not a dry bone in his body. He was like a well-watered garden who can water others."
While darkness has seemed to loom over the Queen City, Seay shared that he is very thankful for the outpouring of love the city has received from not only Buffalo's surrounding areas, but the world.
According to a spokesperson for Tops Market, the shuttle in front of the Jefferson Avenue Tops will run until it reopens. In the meantime, the store will undergo an internal renovation.