Updated: May 17, 2021 06:17 PM
Created: May 17, 2021 04:27 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Several small fires were set overnight on the city's west side, not far from the location of a deadly shooting involving the Rochester Police Department last week.
Police say the events started around 6 p.m. with a group of 75 to 90 protestors.
Roughly three hours after gathering at the shooting scene on Glasser Street, police say around 50 protestors stopped at Child and Jay streets and started lighting things on fire, including cars.
“I don't think setting the fires are helping, it’s more damaging to the neighborhood than anything,” a neighbor who lives off Jay Street said.
Debris and remnants are what were left behind after fires spread across Jay Street.
These are burned areas of the street and debris left after several fires last night on Jay Street between Orchard and Child Streets! What we know coming up in a live report on News10NBC @ 6. pic.twitter.com/L1vQ79J1TS— Lynette Adams (@whec_ladams) May 17, 2021
That neighbor wanted to remain anonymous but said fires and damage affect the people who live there.
“It's just scary because you just never know if somebody else gets hurt when they are trying to do something proper, well not proper but while they are trying to get their point across, others may get injured due to the fires or something that's happening and I’m all for it they just need to do it the right way,” the neighbor said.
She said she thinks the fires were a result of protesting the shooting that happened last Friday on Glasser Street where Mark Gaskill was shot and killed by Rochester Police.
Hours before the fires, there was a vigil held on Glasser Street to remember him.
“Last night we heard gunshots and they were getting closer and closer so I brought my kids from the porch to inside because a bullet doesn't have a face,” neighbor Kristina Barnes said.
Many garbage totes were also set on fire during the early morning hours.
Kristina Barnes said due to increasing tension she now won't let her kids play outside.
“It gets to the point where maybe they're angry because their word is not being heard and now they're resorting to violence instead of talking because maybe their talking is all done. Maybe Mayor Lovely Warren can walk around herself and ask people, 'Hey what do you need different?'” Barnes said.
She supports the calls for change but hopes it can be done safely for the sake of the children in her neighborhood.
“That ties in with doing everything more effective than looting or starting fires in your community, that doesn't help anything. It gets attention but it doesn't help,” the anonymous neighbor said.
“We wanted to make sure that our officers and our firefighters and the rest of the public were safe before sending our firefighters in there,” Mayor Lovely Warren said.
Mayor Warren is calling for protesting without damage.
“Every time you have people that are on the ground that are assessing the situation in making decisions based off the safety of everyone and we understand people have the right to protest, they don't have the right to destroy people's property,” Mayor Warren said.
In a statement, Rochester Firefighters say last night's events proved to be challenging, as the department's policy is to standby if there is no imminent life safety at risk until coordination with police that it's safe.
Once it was okay to go in, firefighters safely put out the flames.
“The people that were on the ground, commanding on the ground felt that the best thing to do was to let the situation go as it did and not to engage and not to bring employees into a situation that could've been heightened the situation,” Mayor Warren said.
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