BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There have been 46 homicides in the City of Buffalo within the first six months of 2021. There were 92 homicides in 1994, the record for the Queen City. Some community leaders said they believe the record level of homicides set in 1994 will be broken this year.
"We will be up in that arena. I almost am going to say we are past that. I hope we don't. I hope that somehow the message gets out. Enough is enough," Pastor James Giles, president and CEO of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries, said.
Community groups like the Buffalo Peacemakers, Back to Basics, Mad Dads of Buffalo and several more are working to prevent levels of violence reaching record highs in 2021.
"We as a people, especially brothers, have to encourage them, give them expereince, give them hope and by our testimonies let them know it can be done," Pastor Kenneth Simmons, Cold Spring Bible Church and Mad Dads of Buffalo, said.
Pastor Simmons is leading a group of men within the organization Mad Dads of Buffalo to stop the gun violence plaguing Buffalo. These men said they are responsible for the record high levels of violence in the early 1990s.
"In 1993 and 1994 I was standing on the corner of Ferry and Oxford selling dope," Pastor Simmons said.
Lamarr Scott was let out of prison in May after serving more than 20 years.
"In 1993, I was causing havoc on the streets of Buffalo. The havoc I was causing caused several deaths. It caused me to be in prison in 1994 and to be sentenced to 28 and a half to 57 years," Scott said.
John Smith was in prison with Scott.
"I was in prison at the end of 1994 for homicide. Murder in the second degree," Smith said.
Gabriel Williams watched Simmons, Scott and Smith in the early 1990s before he was even a teen.
"The things I saw in 1993 and 1994 transformed me and made me contribute in another way. I shot someone 5 times in the head and the torso for my own selfish reasons. For my own selfish reasons. I was sentenced at the age of 17 to 20 years in prison," Williams said.
More than 20 years ago, Scott, Smith and Williams went to prison. 20 years later, they were let out to the same level of violence.
"It's tragic. It's tragic. It's right here smack dead in your face. You don't have a choice. Because you were part of the problem 28 years ago, you owe. You owe," Scott said.
So now, they're taking to the streets of Buffalo as part of Mad Dads of Buffalo.
"To see all these kids dying... it's something we have to stop because we were a part of it. We owe. The process of owing is the process of doing," Smith said.
These men hope by sharing their experiences they can help change the path of others that they were once on.
"We as a people, especially brothers, have to encourage them, give them expereince, give them hope and by our testimonies let them know it can be done," Simmons said.