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Buffalo man charged in Grape Street double homicide of toddler, grandmother

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Avery Schneider
/
WBFO News

A Buffalo man has been charged with murder in the July shooting deaths of a 17-month-old boy and his 54-year-old grandmother.

Kenyatta “Manny” Austin, 25, was arraigned in State Supreme Court Wednesday morning on an indictment accusing him of killing Yvette Johnson and her grandson Kyrie Johnson on July 2. He is charged with two counts of intentional Murder in the Second Degree, two counts of depraved indifference Murder in the Second Degree, two counts of Assault in the Second Degree, one count of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree, and one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree.

Prosecutors allege Austin fired shots at a group of people outside a home on Grape Street at approximately 12:30 a.m. as Yvette Johnson was celebrating her 54th birthday. Both she and her grandson were fatally wounded. Two men survived the shooting and were treated for wounds at ECMC.

“All homicides are tragic, but this crime on Grape Street was particularly horrific. A woman, who was a steward of the community, lost her life in a senseless act of violence and the life of an innocent, little boy was cut short,” said District Attorney John Flynn, in a statement. “I am committed to bringing justice to this family.”

Flynn said members of the public came forward with information that led to the arrest. He was joined at a news conference Wednesday morning by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, and Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

“We’re not done,” said Gramaglia. “We still need more people to come forward. We’re hoping people will see that an arrest was made here, and now will feel even more comfortable coming forward and talking to us.”

Flynn said there are undoubtedly others involved in the shooting, which was followed by another that injured two men later in the month. Flynn said there is a relationship in both incidents with gangs in the City of Buffalo. Police are asking for more information from the public as suspects are sought out.

In spite of the violence, Mayor Byron Brown insisted that Grape Street is a safe place.

“After these shootings, myself, the police commissioner, members of the community, members of the clergy, peacemakers, walked door-to-door in the Grape Street neighborhood. We found a very peaceful, very beautiful, very comfortable neighborhood.”

Austin has been remanded without bail. If convicted on all counts, he would face a maximum sentence of 64 years to life in prison. His appointed lawyer entered a plea of not guilty.

Austin was indicted in mid-July for second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in Niagara County, where he pleaded not guilty. He has been in custody since then. He was convicted in 2010 on a reckless endangerment charge for firing a gun and served six years for the crime in state prison.

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Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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