Tragedy on Grape Street

Grandmother and Grandson laid to rest. Upwards of 900 mourners attend services.

Bishop Darius Pridgen has preached more than his share of funerals for young victims of gun violence in this city. All senseless deaths are tragic. But Monday’s service was even more so because the victims included a baby and his grandmother. Upwards of 900 mourners filled True Bethel Baptist Church on East Ferry Street Monday for the emotional homegoing for Yvette Johnson, 54, and her 17-month old grandson, Kyrie.

Yvette and her grandson Kyrie two innocent victims of Buffalo Gun Violence

The two innocent victims were shot to death last week on July 2 by an unknown gunman or gunmen as they sat on her Grape Street porch in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood. Yvette had just celebrated her 54th birthday the day before and was planning to leave the city in a few weeks for a new job in corrections in Georgia. A nephew and one of her sons, Devery, was also shot. Yvette, ambitious and hard working, earned at least two degrees and various certificates. She also took training courses in Child Traumatic Grief. Her most recent employee, BFNC, remembered her for her care and dedication.

“Please join the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC) in honoring Yvette’s commitment to community service by embracing the true meaning of the word neighbor,” stated the agency’s Executive Director Ricardo Herrera. Buffalo police and Buffalo Peacemakers stood guard outside during the service.

-A Community in Pain-

Residents who called in to the popular Community Hour radio talk show Saturday morning on Power 96.5 WUFO expressed a range of emotions from pain to disbelief as the hosts and co-hosts weighed in.

“We have lost a sense of community,” lamented guest host Warren Galloway. He added that the killer or killers should be apprehended as soon as possible. “If the people in the street know (something about the shooting), law enforcement knows as well,” he suggested. Host George Alexander, outraged by the tragic turn of events, urged the shooter to turn himself in, while one caller questioned the accessibility of guns in our community as another issue. “Who’s supplying the guns? Let’s start there. Where are the guns coming from and can they be traced?” the caller asked. Co-host Willie Warren, a man of strong faith, urged action. “We can pray but we have to get up off our knees and do something about it!” Mr. Warren declared. “Let’s clean up our own neighborhoods!” One of the last to call in was Samuel A. Herbert who urged persons with knowledge of the shooting to contact authorities. “It’s hip to snitch when Black folks are killing Black folks!” he said. -A Mother’s Message- Yvette’s grieving mother, Marlene Price, sat next to her daughter’s casket for the entire service.

At the end of the service she thanked everyone. Her message was simple yet profound.” I want everyone to keep on loving because this was something I never thought would happen to Yvette.” -Police Report “Some Progress”- No arrests had been made in the killings as of press time, however several of the local television stations have reported that Buffalo Police detectives are making “good progress in the case.”

Police say they are receiving more cooperation in this case than they do in most others. Video evidence has been recorded and several interviews have been conducted by detectives, according to Captain Jeff Rinaldo.

-Help is Still Needed-

THE BUFFALO POLICE ARE STILL ASKING FOR WITNESSES TO CALL EITHER THE POLICE CONFIDENTIAL TIP-CALL LINE AT 849-2255 or the Homicide Unit at 851-4466.

True Bethel Baptist Church, under the leadership of Bishop Pridgen,  set up a Go Fund Me Account. The only official fundraising page for the victims that had  outpouring support to help the family with burial costs etc.  Call True Bethel for more information at on what is needed or how you can lend further assistance now that the go-fund me campaign is complete   895-8222.