Saniyya Dennis’ Family is here from New York City and they are doing everything humanly possible to make sure their beloved daughter, who has been missing for nearly two weeks, is found safe and returned to them.
We’re all devastated,” Khalil Abdus-Shahid said last Friday during a press conference outside Rockwell Hall in reference to his niece, 19-year-old Buffalo State College student Saniyya Dennis.
“This is a young scholar with a future as bright as the sun and we’re all suffering because she’s gone missing.”
Although he and other members of the family expressed gratitude for the support they have received thus far, a recurring sentiment was simply that the pace of the investigation was too slow, and as Bro. Khalil expressed “ they’re not doing enough.”
He said at the time the family’s feeling was that there should have been more of a joint effort among government and city officials.
The media event was arranged by activist and Erie County sheriff’s candidate Myles Carter for the family who traveled here from New York City to find their beloved daughter, sister and niece. She was last seen leaving her dorm room in Bishop Hall around 10:30 p.m. on April 24. She has not been seen or heard from since.
A $10,000 reward has been posted for Saniyya’s safe return.
“We are not happy with the response time and what’s going on with this particular matter,” expressed Saniyya’s father Calvin Alan Byrd. “I’m putting up the reward with my own money. Anybody that has a tip, any tip that connects, we’re here in Buffalo to find answers…”
Saniyya’s older sister, Keyora Dennis, who urged the public to come forth with any information they may have, spoke about her younger sibling’s accomplishments: a high achieving honor student who never missed class; who worked two jobs and never missed work; enjoyed close family ties especially with her mother; recently selected out of over 200 students to be a work study student for Project Flight; a Mechanical Engineering major who wanted to pursue a career as an astronaut.; a loving sister, daughter, friend and aunt.
“Saniyya being missing this long is very uncharacteristic. It’s just something she would not do. My family is deeply saddened. We just want my sister home safe and sound.”
Latisha Dennis, Saniyya’s mother, was clearly drained. Her daughter was missing and she had few words except to say that she wanted her daughter to come home. She pleaded with anybody who may have seen, may have heard from or talked to Saniyya to please to call 1-800-346-3543.
The press conference was called by Carter and supporters six days after Saniyya went missing to bring awareness to her disappearance. A boots-on-the-ground search team has been organized by Julia Stevens and flyers posted throughout the area.
“The community and I are doing as much as we can to bring Saniyya home to her family,” said Carter .
“We’re to connect this to other issues in Buffalo because we have a track record of young Black women going missing and they don’t’ get the proper investigations from the police and the attention that is necessary to bring these women home, these young ladies, these girls home to their families.”
He was also critical of the college’s initial response, which he called “inadequate.”
During the press conference the initial time line of Saniyya’s disappearance was discussed:
• Saniyya, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, who weighs approximately 125 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes was last seen wearing a black hoodie and hat leaving from her Bishop dorm at Buffalo State College on an elevator and then walking towards Elmwood Avenue around 10:30 pm. There was a man on the elevator as seen on the footage. The family says police did not interviewed the man until they asked them to do so.
•It is believed that she may have caught the Elmwood bus downtown and then the #40 bus to Niagara Falls.
•The last time the family heard from her was at 12:20 a.m. Sunday (4/25) when she texed her mother and told her she would give her a call in the morning. She never called. The family called the college and asked for a welfare check on Saniyya twice Sunday evening after not hearing from her all day.
•It wasn’t until six days later that a news conference was called.
•The last ping from her cell phone was at 1:15am (4/25) near Goat Island in Niagara Falls
• No transactions have been made on any of her financial accounts,.
•Search efforts in and around the park are on going. Every day at noon and 6:00 p.m. a group meets up to look around the park, and they’re inviting anyone who wants to help to join them.
•Earlier this week Saniyya’s father issued a plea to businesses on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls, asking them to submit any surveillance footage they may have. As reported by Chanel 7 Eyewitness News he said he’s seen surveillance video that police believe is his daughter walking in Niagara Falls. She was alone. Pray for Saniyya’s safe return.