Stricter security to start at Civic Center Garage

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ROCHESTER, NY. (WHEC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello ordered 24/7 security as a part of a plan for safety at the Civic Center Garage.

This comes after an incident at the garage where a family was attacked by a man with a hockey stick following a youth hockey game.

The new plan is highlighted by 24/7 and advanced security at the garage. Security is already there for Amerks hockey games and special events.

Bello also says how Monroe County is continuing to put in place a security improvement plan they announced in 2021. The plan also includes enhanced LED lighting at all levels, more and improved video cameras in the garage, and more security for events held at the arena.

"This is unacceptable and damaging to both the family and the community," Bello said.

The parking deck is primarily used for people who work in the area or go to events at Blue Cross Arena.

“I have sons and I would not want them to experience that and I want to make sure we do what we can that’s responsible and reasonable to keep the garage safe,” Monroe County Director of Public Safety Richard Tantalo said.

According to the criminal complaint, the family said they were attacked on Saturday by 24-year-old Tyrone Oliver who is homeless following their 9-year-old son’s youth hockey game.

The dad said they were walking to their car on the bottom level of the garage when Oliver began screaming at them to come over.

Another car came to help and the man who helped said he could hear the son yelling "don’t kill my dad."

The son and wife were able to get inside the other car, but the dad said Oliver grabbed him, they both fell over and then Oliver began hitting him.

When the man’s wife tried to help, the dad said Oliver picked up a hockey stick from the back seat of the car and swung it at her and then him, hitting him.

That family was eventually able to get away and Oliver was found and arrested.

“We’re dealing with mental health issues, we’re dealing with individuals who have experienced their own level of trauma. I am certainly not advocating for homelessness but recognizing that we have to come up with a sustainable plan and building that relationship with individuals to get them to the treatment and the help that they need is key to our success and key to our safety plan,” Tantalo said.

Tantalo said security was not in place when the family was attacked so now, along with the 24/7 security he said there will be enhanced lights, new security video and improvements to the doors and entrances.

“And those individuals who continue to act inappropriately and illegally will be arrested and we will not allow them back into the garage,” Tantalo said.

Tantalo said the county’s improvement plan was in the works before this attack and it’s is a step toward making sure everyone feels safe and secure.

“Nobody wants anyone sleeping on a concrete floor so we want to be able to do this with sustainability and yet with humanity. Recognizing the fact that people need a safe environment to be able to come to a family even such as the ones happening at the Blue Cross Arena,” Tantalo said.

Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart said everyone should be able to get in and out of the garage safely.

“Absolutely no one wants people to live in the garage. These are not humane conditions,” Barnhart (D, 21) said. “There is not a bathroom facility, sleeping on concrete, it’s not an appropriate place to live but for years not people seek shelter there, it’s a warm place and they may not want to be around other people, go to a shelter or services."

Barnhart is happy to see the swift response while pointing out there’s no quick fix.

“The best thing they can do is to make sure that there is A) Security in the garage because everyone has the right to use the facility safely and B) Continue to try to connect to try to connect people to the services and the housing support that they need,” Barnhart said.

The county said it conducts outreach with the homeless Monday through Friday and has placed some 70 people in safer housing with support services.

Recovery All Ways Executive Director Gary Harding said the Rochester Homeless Union and some community members placed 30 people in hotels, raising $7,000 to do so.

“I understand you know somebody was attacked and that’s not good at all and it immediately brings me to my concerns for our houseless neighbors and the options that they have available,” Harding said.

Harding said he’s also glad the county is ramping up security but said more needs to be done and people need to have compassion and solutions to the problem.

“Right now we need to get people off the streets and into shelters, how do we do that? We put them in hotels and the next step would be working with the county to get them connected to see if they would be able to take over payments as well as connect them to resources that they need to improve their situation." Harding said.

Tyrone Oliver pleaded not guilty to an assault charge Monday in court and is still behind bars.

News10NBC reached out to the family who was attacked to see if they would want to share their story.

The dad did get back to us and understandably said thank you for reaching out but they are not talking about it right now.

Harding said if you are a community member who wants to help the homeless find temporary housing and food there is a GoFundMe page, click here or coordinate a supply drop-off with Recovery All Ways.