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Student, security guard injured in violence at McKinley HS, 17-year-old in police custody

A line of emergency vehicles in front of McKinley High School.
Tom Dinki
/
WBFO News
Emergency vehicles are seen outside of McKinley High School following a shooting Wednesday afternoon.

One person was shot and another stabbed at McKinley High School late Wednesday afternoon.

Both victims were taken to the hospital with injuries. Buffalo Police announced on Twitter late Thursday night that a 17-year-old boy is in custody in connection with the stabbing assault. Buffalo Police say the investigation is ongoing. McKinley students will move to remote learning for the rest of the week.

Buffalo Police confirmed the incident occurred outside the south side of the school building in the parking lot at 3:45 p.m. They said an individual pulled a gun and fired multiple shots after a dispute.

People inititally said both a male student and a school security guard were shot, but later clarified late Wednesday that the student was stabbed.

The 14-year-old student was transported to Oishei Children's Hospital and underwent surgery early Wednesday evening. The security guard was taken to Erie County Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries after being shot in the leg.

Buffalo Police are leading the investigation with assistance from the FBI, New York State Police and Erie County Sheriff. Police are urging anyone with information about the shooting or the suspect to contact any law enforcement agency.

An armed FBI employee walks behind police tape, alongside a person on their phone, who appears to be wearing a police vest. There is snow and a car in the background.
Thomas O'Neil-White
/
WBFO
An armed member of the FBI, wearing a camo vest, walks outside of McKinley High School, following a shooting on February 9, which injured two people.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Buffalo State College tweeted that its police force had received a report of an armed person heading down Elmwood Avenue toward the Scajaquada Expressway. In an update just after 5 p.m., Buffalo Police Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said there was not believed to be any immediate threat to the public at that time.

“Our detectives, our investigators, are working to build up leads, talk to witnesses, and then we will, once we have sufficient evidence working with the district attorney’s office, we will swiftly move to make an arrest,” said Gramaglia during a 6:30 p.m. press conference.

Buffalo State College also went into a shelter in place until about 6:30 p.m. after the report of an armed person. All classes and activities for Wednesday evening were canceled.

Over 100 McKinley students, on campus for after-school activities at the time of the incident, were put into a lockdown and then transitioned to shelter in place after the building was cleared of suspects.

Parents started arriving at the scene not long after the first reports of a shooting, and anxiously waited on the sidewalk across the street for word on when their children would be released.

Latrese Hayes said her son, a McKinley senior, called her less than 15 minutes after the incident.

McKinley parents, students react to shooting
WBFO's Tom Dinki captures the experiences of McKinley High School parents and students as they waited several hours to be reunited Wednesday following the stabbing of a student and the shooting of a school security guard.

“I just tried to calm him down as best as I could, told him I was on my way,” she said. “He told me not to come because they had the school on lockdown and they weren't letting anyone out. But I'm like, I'm still coming up there.”

Despite several media briefings held outside the school, some parents grew frustrated with the lack of updates from Buffalo Police and Buffalo Public Schools. One group of parents tried to ask officers across the street for information, but officers did not immediately respond.

It was dark out by the time police started to escort students out of the building and to their parents standing in a taped-off section of Elmwood Avenue.

It was there that McKinley sophomore Jose Mejias was reunited with his grandmother.

He said he was inside the school building when he heard shots fired outside, and then hid inside the boys locker room with about ten other students. Mejias, holding a Bible in his right hand as he recounted the story, said he then led a prayer.

“We were all like in a circle together and we were praying together.” he said. “Whenever I pray and all that, that's when I feel safe.”

Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash, wearing a suit and tie, speaks to multiple reporters. He is standing next to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Tom Dinki
/
WBFO News
Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash speaks at a press conference outside of McKinley High School on Feb. 9, after two people were injured there earlier that day.

Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash announced that McKinley will be remote for the rest of the week, and then will use a phased return approach under a plan the district has already created. Cash said McKinley has had a plan in place "because we've had bumps here, much of the year."

For Hayes and other parents, they said their children shouldn’t have to fear for their lives at school. She said her own son was threatened by another student this school year and, despite assurances from McKinley officials that no weapons could get inside the school, she considered pulling him out of McKinley.

“This is supposed to be a place where our children are supposed to be safe,” she said. “This is just crazy. It's hard. very heartbreaking. very heartbreaking.”

What you need to know:

  • There have been multiple advisories to not travel in the area of Elmwood Avenue where McKinley High School is located Wednesday night while this is occurring.
  • Buffalo Public Schools will have McKinley move to remote learning for the next three days and will then return in a phased approach.
  • Anyone who witnessed the event, knows the shooter or has any information should call or text Buffalo Police’s confidential tip line at 716-847-2255, Crime Stoppers or 911.

Timeline

Wednesday
3:45 p.m. – Student stabbed and security guard shot outside the south end of McKinley High School, near its parking lot and greenhouse.

4:16 p.m. – Buffalo Police tweet, “BREAKING: BPD on scene of shooting at McKinley High School. Motorists are urged to avoid Elmwood Avenue between the 198 and Amherst Street."

4:22 p.m. – Buffalo State College tweets, “University Police has received a report of an armed person near campus. Last seen near McKinley High School on Elmwood Ave heading towards 198. Immediately shelter in place.”

4:38 p.m. – Erie County Sheriff and Erie County Emergency Services are reported to be assisting Buffalo Police, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Twitter.

4:50 p.m. – McKinley High School’s parking lot is taped off. Elmwood Avenue is blocked off at Nottingham Terrace.

Mckinley shooting
Tom Dinki
/
WBFO News
Police tape marks off part of the McKinley High School parking lot.

4:54 p.m. - Erie County Sheriff helicopter seen circling the area.

4:57 p.m. – Buffalo Police Spokesperson Mike DeGeorge confirms a student and security guard were shot. (It was later updated to be one person shot and another stabbed.)

5:11 p.m. - Several EMS vehicles could be seen in front of the high school.

5:13 p.m. (approx.) - Buffalo Police Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia provides an update to the press, saying the student who was shot is currently undergoing surgery at Oishei Children’s Hospital. Over 100 students reportedly still in the building, but building had been cleared of any suspects. Gramaglia says, “We don't believe there is an immediate threat [to the general public] at this time.” The suspect has not been located.

A tall man with brown hair wearing a suit and tie speaks to multiple reporters crowded around him. There is a police car in the background and the sun is setting.
Tom Dinki
/
WBFO News
Buffalo Police Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia speaks outside McKinley High School on Wednesday, just after 5 p.m., regarding the incident.

5:00 p.m. – Buffalo State College cancels all events and activities on campus and all classes in-person, hybrid and online for Wednesday night. Students told not to travel to campus and to continue to shelter in place if they are on campus.

5:15 p.m. – Buffalo Public Schools Board of Education cancels its work session scheduled for Wednesday evening.

5:18 p.m. – Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown makes a statement on the shooting, tweeting, “Today represents a very dark day in our City. As of last night, eight school shootings had occurred across the United States in 2022. Now, the City of Buffalo has the horrible distinction of becoming the ninth.” He tweets two additional statements within the next two minutes.

5:39 p.m. – WBFO’s Tom Dinki reports a Buffalo Police SWAT vehicle arrived at the school about 10 minutes ago.

5:24 p.m. – WBFO’s Thomas O-Neil White reports the FBI are on scene.

5:52 p.m. - WBFO’s Tom Dinki reports that parents are asking for updates, but officers were not immediately responding.

6:07 p.m. – Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweets statement wishing the two people injured a full recovery, and reports that Elmwood Avenue in front of the school is still closed and traffic should avoid the area.

6:10 p.m. (approx.) - Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash, FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Belongia, Gramaglia and Brown hold a press conference. During the press conference, Cash says over 100 students are still waiting inside. Gramaglia says they’ve begun to reunite students with families. The injured student is reported to be still in surgery. The suspect has not been located and police are still investigating, but there is “no ongoing threat at the school currently,” according to Belongia.

6:33 p.m. – Buffalo State College given clearance from Buffalo Police to end its shelter in place.
Thursday

10:49 p.m. – Buffalo Police announce that a 17-year-old boy is in custody in connection to the stabbing assault of the 14-year-old student. BPD says the investigation is ongoing.

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.
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.
Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.