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Erie County DA partnering with University Police at Buffalo State to lead Saniyya Dennis search

Posted at 10:47 AM, May 05, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — 7 Eyewitness News has learned the Erie County District Attorney's Office is partnering with University Police at Buffalo State to lead the search for missing Buffalo State student Saniyya Dennis.

We have also learned Dennis' family is meeting with DA John Flynn's Office Wednesday night.

Calvin Byrd, Saniyya Dennis' father, spoke with 7 Eyewitness News Tuesday and urged anyone who might know anything to come forward. Byrd says he's seen surveillance video that police believe is his daughter walking in Niagara Falls, but it is unclear because the video is from cameras that are far away.

Police believe Saniyya took the bus from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, and her family believes once she arrived, she walked down Old Falls Street to get into Niagara Falls State Park. Byrd is urging any businesses along Old Falls Street to do what they can to help in the investigation. He asked specifically for Flip Burger, Mario's Pizza, the Hyatt Place Hotel, the Culinary Institute and others to see if they happened to catch anything.

Saniyya has been missing since April 24 when police say she was last seen leaving her residence hall around 11:00 p.m. Her phone last pinged near Niagara Falls State Park at 1:23 am.

New York Parks Police released a statement Wednesday:

"Since April 27, the New York State Park Police, in coordination with State Police, U.S. Border Patrol, Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, Ontario Canada Park Police and Buffalo State University Police, have conducted repeated foot searches of Niagara Falls State Park and Niagara River Lower Gorge for a missing Buffalo State University student.

Daily, New York State Park Police Officers have searched Goat Island, Prospect Park, Cave of the Winds, and the Maid of the Mist areas. A tracking bloodhound and two K9’s conducting article searches have been deployed. Three helicopter searches of the lower Niagara River also have been conducted. No evidence of the missing student has been located.

New York State Park Police remain available to assist in continuing efforts. Volunteer searchers are reminded to exercise caution in an area of natural hazards."

The NFTA released a statement Wednesday:

"First and foremost, the NFTA shares the community’s concern for the health and well-being of Saniyya Dennis. Our detectives worked diligently to recover requested video for the lead agency in this case, and provided that evidence to authorities as soon as it was discovered.

There is an ongoing law enforcement investigation being conducted by Buffalo State’s University Police Department, the Erie County District Attorney’s office, and other departments. We are fully cooperating with that investigation. Law enforcement has determined that the disclosure of bus video evidence at this time would interfere with this ongoing investigation."

Her family came to Western New York from the New York City area to search for her and are offering a $10,000 reward if someone can bring her home. The search has been centered in the area around Niagara Falls State Park and more than a week after her disappearance the search has entered the national spotlight.

7 Eyewitness News tracked the timeline of Buffalo State University Police's investigation.