A shooting in a blighted Buffalo neighborhood left two people dead and three others wounded early Wednesday, just hours after police and community members rallied for safer streets.
A 25-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were shot and killed about 2 a.m. in a neighborhood on Buffalo's east side, where the number of vacant properties rivals the number of occupied homes.
The man and woman were pronounced dead at the scene, police spokesman Michael DeGeorge said.
Detectives said another man and two other women were believed to have been shot while sitting in a vehicle in front of the house.
One of the injured women was identified as Lawanda Strozier, a resident of the house where the shooting took place. She was in serious condition Wednesday at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. Kimberly Caldwell, 20, of Derby, west of Buffalo, was in fair condition at the same hospital. Joseph Cole, 29, of Buffalo, was released after being treated, DeGeorge said.
Police did not immediately release the names of the dead. Neighbors identified the man as Joseph Lovett. Police said the motive for the shooting remained under investigation.
The gunfire erupted just a few hours after neighbors and police concluded their National Night Out events to promote safe neighborhoods.
The two-story home where the shooting happened is bordered by overgrown lawns and a vacant lot with an abandoned car. Neighbors stopped by to leave flowers on the front steps. A nearby well-kept house stood in contrast to other mostly rundown homes on the same street.
By midmorning, police had left the scene. Police officials and Mayor Byron Brown planned to return later in the day to walk the neighborhood and ask witnesses to come forward. Authorities said such efforts, called "Working Against Violent Events," or WAVEs, have produced arrests in recent years.
A man who said he lived three doors from the scene of the shooting and next door to the mother of the man who died said he recalled hearing gunfire earlier than the time reported by police.
"This neighborhood has gone from bad to worse. There's always something going on," said the man, who refused to give his name because he lives in the area and fears retribution.
A woman who stood on the front porch at the home of the male victim's mother waved off a reporter without commenting.
Bridgette Foster, 35, who has lived on the street 10 years, said she heard the dead man's brother scream. She ran down the street and found him standing over his brother.
"His brother was laying on the ground, basically just eyes glazed over. I tried to do a little CPR ... trying to get him to at least talk or something," Foster said. "He was unresponsive and that was it. He died."