Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

September 10, 2013

Bar shooting intel scant

Staff reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Police are still trying to identify the shooter and his intended victim in the weekend fracas at the Niagara Hotel, a detective said Tuesday.

A 20-year-old black male, whose name police are withholding, suffered a single gunshot wound to his shoulder early Saturday outside the bar at Transit and Niagara streets. Police believe the man was not the intended target and was struck accidentally, Detective Lt. Scott Seekins said. The man was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment of a "non life-threatening" injury, he added.

The shooting was called in to police around 1:45 a.m. Saturday. Prior to it, a Niagara Hotel employee told the US&J, a large group of African American men had entered the bar together, and suddenly "attacked" a man inside. Simultaneously, the employee said, several other fights erupted in the bar. Bouncers then ushered the members of the large group outside, at which point bar owner Pieter Esch said he went to the door of the bar and heard a gunshot outside.

When police arrived on the scene, patrons were exiting the bar en masse and advising that a man had been shot. From witness accounts, they gather that four shots were fired and probably from more than one gun.

Four days later, motives for the fights and gunplay still are not known, according to Seekins. The search for witnesses is still on, based on "really bad video" surveillance inside and outside the bar, he said. The shooting itself is not captured in any surveillance footage, he added.

The shooting victim has offered investigators only "limited cooperation," Seekins said. After talking with him, police believe he was not the shooter's intended target. Whether he knows who the target was is unclear. The victim seems reluctant to talk for fear the shooter could come after him, Seekins said. That's why police are not disclosing his name.

"It's not uncommon for victims, even unintentional victims, to withhold information," Seekins said. "This (man) has a real fear of retaliation."

Members of the group that entered the bar and started the fracas are not positively identified yet either, although police believe they're all acquaintances with hometowns including Lockport, Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Rochester, according to Seekins.