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Mayor says councilman made honest mistake bringing gun into school, BTF President not so forgiving

File photo

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he believes Common Councilmember Ulysees Wingo made an honest mistake when he brought a gun into Riverside High School last week. Wingo is currently barred from being on district property and will not chair meetings of the Council's Education Committee until an investigation is complete.

"We all forget things. Let's face it, we're human beings," Brown said.

Wingo, who has a licensed pistol permit, has apologized for the situation, saying his actions were unintentional and inadvertent. Brown said everyone involved took the appropriate action once Wingo realized he was armed.

"When we he realized he had the weapon, he went immediately to the school office, reported that he had it, and asked how they wanted it to be handled. He handled it the way the school district officials recommended at that time," Brown said.

Like school property, weapons are not permitted in City Hall. Brown says he is unsure if Wingo ever carried a gun with him into the building in the past.

The mayor says there are a number of security protocols in place that would stop civilians, including elected officials, from bringing a weapon into City Hall.

"We have put out a series of rules and instructions to employees. So, employees know the protocol. Employees wear their badges in City Hall. Badges are checked versus the picture on the badge," Brown explained.

Brown said Wingo began to carry because of threats of violence against him and his family. He said Wingo has assured him he will never bring his weapon to City Hall.

However, Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore has quite a different take on the gun-wielding Wingo.

"That a councilmember should bring a loaded gun into a school and then blame the security system and say basically that, 'This further enforces the need for more robust security programs at our schools,' is absolutely bizarre," Rumore told WBFO.

Credit File Photo / WBFO News
BTF President Phil Rumore is not so forgiving of Wingo.

The head of the teachers union said the Masten District councilmember "should have had enough sense" not to bring the gun to a school in the first place, or to have at least locked it in the trunk of his car before entering the school.

"You know, especially that a councilman should say this when the Common Council hasn't given the Board of Education an increase in funding for over three years and then he says, 'If they had a better security system, he wouldn't have brought the gun.' (snort) Too much. It's unacceptable." 

Rumore said he does not know how many other schools Wingo, as head of the Council's Education Committee, may have entered carrying a loaded firearm.

"The only thing I can tell you is, anyone, knowing what's been going on in this country and knowing the laws, to go into a school with a loaded gun and then blame the lack of security in the school and say, 'Well, if they had better security, I wouldn't have gotten into the school.' What does he mean, if we had security that he would have been shot?"

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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