BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Shaken by recent violence and homicides in our community, people gathered in Niagara Square Wednesday to pray for peace.
"Those whose lives have been taken, and those loved ones left behind, to mourn and seek answers to the agonizing question: why?" said Bishop Michael Fisher, with the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo
So far this year in Buffalo, 49 homicides have been reported. Data from the Erie County Crime Analysis Center shows that homicide rates have been increasing for the past four years.
On Tuesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued an executive order declaring gun violence in Erie County a public health crisis.
This after data from New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for 2020...shows Erie County led all other counties in the state in violent crimes committed with a firearm per capita (130.7 per 100,000 of population).
"Just looking on the news and hearing the stories about individuals that have been affected, especially the three-year-old that just recently died, I felt compelled to join this prayer." Ian Klenk of Tonawanda.
"People have to change their hearts, and that only comes from God and Jesus Christ. We need more, bigger prayer rallies because to me prayer is the answer," said Diane Tardibuono of Buffalo.
"Violent crime is inexcusable, it is intolerable," said Mayor Byron Brown.
And at the end of the event, people said they left with a renewed sense of hope.
"What happens if we make unity a lifestyle? What happens if we really continue to stay together in prayer?" said Apostle Garney Davis, Spiritual Director at ECMC.