BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After two more fatalities from gun violence in Buffalo which claimed the lives of two young men, ages 19 and 21, community members are speaking out about increasing tensions between numerous neighborhood gangs.
“We now have a very good insight of what’s about to happen,” said Pastor James Giles, the coordinator for the Buffalo Peacemakers. “It doesn’t look good. It’s very ugly.”
The Buffalo Peacemakers are a community group that goes out into neighborhoods, establishing relationships with members and hoping to curb violence and crime.
“It saddens us that we couldn’t muster whatever is required to get to them; to save them,” said Pastor Giles about the most recent group of young victims. He recalls looking into the eyes of each victim who has died in the last few weeks; remembering moments he shared with them.
Pastor Giles says there are around 35 murders that have happened in Buffalo so far this year, a number that is slightly down from this time last year.
He has a real fear though that four of the most recent murders are all connected.
“You’re seeing some of the retaliations from some of that stuff that’s being done,” said Pastor Giles who adds that these young men involved in the gangs are looking for money and turning to robbing each other which is part of the reason tension is running high right now.
He said the only way to curb that rising tension is to get into the neighborhoods and meet with these members. The hard part is, according to Pastor Giles, these gangs members are getting younger and younger, now in the early teens, and the pastor said sometimes it is too late to build strong relationships with them because they’re already getting into trouble.
“If we had enough resources, we could address the problems were having,” said Pastor Giles. “The violence is an outcry of something else.”
The Peacemaker coordinator said all of these connected murders happening to young men he knows in neighborhoods he frequents concerns and saddens him and everyone in these communities.
“They’re [these gang members] not bad,” said Pastor Giles. “They’re just misguided, misdirected and have this very poor sense of morality when it comes to taking a life. In some cases, it’s like a game to some of them. But this isn’t a game where people are getting up after they’re getting blasted.”