Action for a Better Community: ‘Gang culture’ to blame for fatal birthday party shooting

Action for a Better Community: ‘Gang culture’ to blame for fatal birthday party shooting

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Rochester police is speaking out about a birthday party shooting Saturday night that left a 16-year-old girl dead. At the same time, non-profits that serve Rochester claim this is another example of gang culture luring teens into gun fights.

Since identifying the 16-year-old victim as Zahira Smith, police have determined she and the 18-year-old woman who was also shot were not the intended targets.

Police has one suspect in custody and hopes more witnesses will come forward.

As bullets struck the home during the birthday party, another group at the party returned fire. When police arrived, they arrested 18-year-old Ameer Andrews, who was allegedly part of the group that fired back with an illegal weapon.

“At the same time, he’s also a potential witness to what occurred during this,” said Rochester Police Luitenant Greg Bello. “So, our investigators have interviewed him, and will continue to interview him about what he knows about the situations that led up to it.”

Activists like Jerome Underwood, President of Action for a Better violent Community, want the city to officially acknowledge gangs are luring teens to commit these crimes.

“Gang culture is pervasive in Rochester,” Underwood said. “And this is why I mentioned earlier that it takes all of us to find a way to lean into young people. Because other people are leaning into them, and their methods are very different than mine.”

“That no snitch culture, enough of that,” Lt. Bello said. “If you know somebody that is carrying a gun you need to tell somebody or if you know somebody that is involved in a feud that can escalate to gun violence you need to tell somebody. It’s on you as well.”

In the aftermath of this double shooting on Emerson Street, members of Pathways to Peace combed the neighborhood and spoke to the victim’s family to calm any thoughts of retaliation.

Non-profits like Action for a Better Community also have outlets you can contact to find a better path through counseling, education, or jobs.

“We work with families and want to know what is going on with that family,” Underwood said. “To make sure we can work with them and move them to prosperity. All the things that we work on we don’t do ourselves but through community partners.”

The Smith family tells us Ameer Andrews is due back in the City Court at 2 pm on June 10. They encourage anyone with information to contact CrimeStoppers to help them get justice.