Rochester reflects on two years since Buffalo tragedy 

Rochester Reflects on Buffalo Shootings

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The shadow of the racially motivated mass shooting in the Buffalo Tops lingers over Rochester. Two years later, shoppers in a predominantly Black neighborhood reflect in their community.

The gunman, Payton Gendron, made a post online, saying he planned on coming to Rochester next, targeting the Tops on West Avenue.

Lakeysha Evans said she believes the power of prayer prevented anything from happening in Rochester. Evans said neighborhood churches were holding weekly prayer sessions during that time.

“We were praying, each church had a Wednesday or Thursday night – whatever night it was – we prayed each week around the city of Rochester,” she said. “And I believe that is what stopped him from coming to do that mass killing here – was the prayers of the righteous,” she said.

Other community members like Kristia and Toni shared sentiments surrounding the anxieties related to visiting Tops, opting for caution and prayer to combat fears.

“This community is not fearful, but we are careful,” said Kristia. “And I think we are very, very, fortunate. But that doesn’t mean we exclude ourselves from Buffalo in sharing that remorse and compassion, and how we carry ourselves, but no we don’t have the choice of being fearful.”

“It changed my mind about Tops a lot, you know,” said Toni. “And technically, it was the Black community targeted, so, this is another Black community here. So, like I said, I don’t come here as often as I used to.”

As federal prosecutors push for the death penalty against the gunman, the community continues to find solace in unity and remembrance.

“I guess I wouldn’t say I am fearful, because of the prayer, you know,” said Evans. “He that dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide in the shadow of the almighty so therefore if something were to happen to me I’m not afraid because I believe I’m going to heaven.”

The Justice Department issued a moratorium on federal executions, but federal prosecutors can still seek the punishment.