While city police spent Monday hunting for information about the murder of Robert J. Camarra, city residents mulled over Lockport’s first murder since August 2004.

Erik Bienas, who has lived in Lockport on and off since 1989, said he was leaving the DiCenso Ristorante next door when police started pulling up to the West Avenue murder scene.

Bienas believes the quality of life in the city is heading in the wrong direction.

“Look at Washburn Street,” Bienas said. “It’s getting to the point where I need to invest in a firearm.”

Renee Reynolds also has watched Lockport change over the last 20 years. She said she and her parents moved here years ago to live in a safe area.

But in her eyes, things have gotten worse.

“Lockport is not the same safe little town it used to be,” Reynolds said. “It’s becoming a mini-Buffalo.”

Detective Capt. Lawrence Eggert disagrees.

“We’re not like Niagara Falls and Buffalo,” Eggert said. “We’re just going through these spasms of violence.”

Lockport experienced a few high-profile crimes at the end of 2005, including a bank robbery and an armed robbery at the Sunoco station on South Transit Road that left two people wounded by gunfire.

Business owners are keeping a close eye on the city’s crime. Frames By Ames owner William Sipple said he was not surprised about the West Avenue murder.

“It’s just one of those things that is bound to happen,” Sipple said.

Sipple said he has been worried about recent crimes against businesses in the area, including last year’s burglary at Olde Main Street Antiques.

Mayor Michael Tucker said he believes incidents like the homicide on West Avenue are not the norm.

“It’s unfortunate that something like this has to happen in the city of Lockport,” Tucker said. “Incidents like this are like a drive-by shooting. It’s tough to do anything about.”

Tucker said he has faith that the police department will continue to check out leads to find the suspect quickly.

As for Bienas, he said he is still troubled about the effects of crime on future generations.

“I’m concerned for my kids,” Bienas said. “They’re going to move in with their mom in Hamburg. It’s a lot quieter there.”

Contact Tasha Kates at 439-9222, Ext. 6241.

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