Customers return to Rochester’s East End amid rise in shootings

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Much of the smoke may be clearing from the skies in downtown Rochester, but the threat of recent shootings still lingers in the air as crowds return to restaurants and pubs in the city’s east end district.

Folks say they are determined to have some fun, even in the face of recent violence. Stepping outside Friday night, Danny Verno says he didn’t think twice about taking a walk down East Avenue.

“You have to be aware,” Verno said. “You can’t live your life in fear. Life is meant to be experienced.”

Living just blocks from Flour City Station, where one man was shot and killed nearly two weeks ago, Verno says that he wasn’t going to let the fear of violence keep him indoors. This week alone, eight people were shot in Rochester, according to RPD’s Open Data Portal.

“It comes with the territory,” Verno said. “It’s one of the things where you have to be mindful and it is a city. At the end of the day, it’s a city. People come from all walks of life and you just have to be careful at all times.”

He joins others like John Bissonnette, who says he is just happy to breathe normally again.

“It looked a lot like a sandstorm,” Bissonnette said. “I was in Iraq back in the day so it reminded me of that, wasn’t quite as thick and it was very irritating. I was sneezing quite a bit.”

As the patio bars began filling up ahead of Friday night’s dinner rush, Arlene Brown and her husband say while you could focus on the bad things, it’s always a good thing to keep in mind how great the city can be.

“Rochester is a fabulous place to live,” Brown said. “There’s always something going on. We have theater. We have all kinds of things, outdoor activities, and the people are friendly.”