Two teenagers charged in a mass shooting and the murder of a Brockport State College student at a 2020 Lockport Halloween party pleaded guilty Thursday for their roles in the case.
The pleas took place during a hearing before Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. Although reporters were in the courtroom for the proceedings, the names of the teen defendants are being withheld under provisions of New York's Raise the Age Law, which looks to keep most defendants under the age of 18 out of adult courts.
The teens, ages 16 and 17, were each charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, among other charges, in the slaying of Cheyenne Farewell, 21, of Medina. Five other individuals, who had been among an estimated 120 people attending the party with Farewell, were also wounded when a hail of gunfire erupted through a side garage door of a home on South Niagara Street at around 12:20 a.m, Oct. 17.
Eight bullet holes penetrated the door.
The 17-year-old defendant admitted that he fired the eight rounds that slammed through the garage door, striking Farewell and the other victims. In response to a question from Murphy, the teen said he had shot "recklessly" through the closed door.
In total, the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and one count of first-degree reckless endangerment.
He'll face a possible sentence of 20 years to life in prison when he returns to court on Sept. 30.
The 16-year-old defendant, who admitted he had the gun, but did not fire it, pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree manslaughter for "aiding and abetting" the crimes. He faces a minimum possible sentence of five years behind bars and a maximum of 25 years.
Both teens remain in custody in lieu of bail of $500,000 cash or $1 million bond.
"I think it's as good a resolution as we could have hoped for," Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman said of the pleas. "The individual who fired the shots pleaded guilty to all the charges against him."
The other shooting victims ranged in age from 16 to 21. Two of the victims, like Farewell, were from Medina, two were from Lockport and one was from Corfu.
Prosecutors said none of the victims knew the shooter or his accomplice.
Investigators said the shooting may have been triggered by a dispute between two teens who were attending the party and another individual. They also confirmed that neither Farewell nor the other five victims were linked to that dispute.
“This was a completely senseless crime,” Seaman said. “How little value these offenders placed on the lives of these young people is truly appalling.”
Lockport police said officers responded to a report of shots fired at the South Niagara Street home. When the officers arrived on the scene, they said they found six people suffering from gunshot wounds.
Delano Johnson, who lived at the the home, said heard the gunfire and went running to investigate. He said he found Farewell crumpled on the floor.
"We got her to the ambulance, to try to bring her to the hospital," Johnson said. "But she died right there."
The case was prosecuted by First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann and Executive Assistant District Attorney Mary-Jean Bowman.
A paroled sex offender, Jonathan S. Frey, accused of driving the two teens to the shooting, pleaded guilty in July to a charge of second-degree hindering prosecution. Frey, 22, of Lockport, faces sentencing in October.