BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “It’s hard to believe he's gone,” declared Robert Schreck, attorney.
This was supposed to be a week of celebration for Scrhreck, managing attorney of The Barnes Firm.
The firm is opening a new office on Pearl Street in downtown Buffalo. But instead there is shock and heartache.
“It still hasn't sunk in because he was truly a leader and we were rattled by the loss of our leader and he was a great man,” Schreck reflected. Schreck says he last spoke to Barnes Thursday, one day before the tragedy. “ He was a strong boss. He drove performance — I often said he was General Patton then General Omar Bradley,” remarked Schreck.
Schreck said Barnes was a hard working attorney with a great sense of humor.
Barnes was a graduate of the University at Buffalo Law School and a Marine, who was quietly generous to local charities.
“It was Steve Barnes's check. Steve Barnes was always there to help if anyone asked or if anyone needed it,” responded Schreck.
Schreck says Barnes's brother, Richard Barnes also works at the firm.
It was his daughter Elizabeth who was on with her uncle. He picked her up from Massachusetts where she works, to attend his mother's 90th birthday party in Buffalo.
“The devastation is unimaginable — you can't even imagine what they’re going through. Rich Barnes lost his brother and his daughter. Mrs. Barnes lost her son and her cherished granddaughter,” remarked Schreck.
Elizabeth Barnes was 2006 graduate of Orchard Park High School where she is being remembered and mourned by members of the school community.
English teacher Bonnie Williams is one of three teachers who taught and coached Elizabeth 14 years ago.
“She brought happiness where ever she went. Hilarious, brilliant, funny — just a wonderful kid — it’s just a loss for everybody,” Williams said.
Her former teachers says they're not surprised Elizabeth went on to become a lawyer following in both her father and her late mother's footsteps.
“She wouldn't let anyone get passed her with the ball. She would support her team mates all the time and she's the kind of kid who you knew was going to do good thing,” recalled Mike Graffeo, teacher and coach.
Social Studies teacher Joshua Dannecker teared up as he remembered coaching her in soccer, basketball and softball.
“I just remember her smile — she just — made you laugh and it was good,” Dannecker remembered.
Dannecker said she would challenge her teachers and was passionate about learning.
“A great student — well prepared,” reflected
Two lives cut tragically short and remembered for the immeasurable impact they made on so many others.
“Can’t put it into words —she’s a person —whose making a difference,” Graffeo said.
“He was a driven — hard working — very bright attorney,” Schreck stated.