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Police Arrest Man in January Shooting and Fire

Byron Howard
Buffalo Police photo
Byron Howard

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo homicide detectives have made an arrest in a double murder and arson fire in the University Heights District that occurred in January.

The victims were found burned beyond recognition in the blaze on Dartmouth Avenue. But police investigators said both of the victims had been shot to death before the fire was started.

Late Thursday night, Detectives arrested 21 year old Byron Howard of Easton Avenue and charged him with two counts of murder in the 2nd degree. Police believe that the suspect shot and killed the two victims -- 27-year-old Chisha Hawkins and 38-year-old Vernard Millner -- on January 18, 2009. Police say Howard broke into the home, shot Hawkins and Millner and then started the fire.

Buffalo Police Commissioner McCarthy Gipson says the murders were the result of a "break up" between Howard and Hawkins.

It was a joint investigation by Buffalo Homicide and Buffalo Fire. Buffalo Fire commmissioner Michael Lombardo "heinous" crime. But investigators would not go into evidence that led them to Howard.