Buffalo, N.Y., police are poring through tips and reviewing surveillance video today to find the shooter who killed four people and wounded four others at a wedding anniversary party, after charges were dropped against a man arrested in the massacre.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita asked that charges be dismissed today against Keith Johnson, 25, who was arrested Saturday night and charged with four counts of murder.
Police said new evidence received after Johnson's arrest was announced led investigators to question whether they really had the right man.
"Detectives, following the press conference yesterday to announce the arrest, started getting some tips that maybe he wasn't the shooter," Buffalo police spokesman Michael DeGeorge said.
"Police started reviewing the evidence and last night, police working along with Erie County district attorneys realized there were some serious doubts that this was the shooter," he said.
The charges were dropped when Johnson appeared in court this morning for his arraignment, but he was still detained on a parole violation.
The district attorney said in court that photographic evidence and witness statements made it uncertain that Johnson was the gunman.
"I'm not going to prosecute someone for a quadruple homicide unless I'm sure he did it," Sedita said, with Johnson sitting handcuffed next to him, "and I'm not sure he did it."
He said police have clear video of the shooting, culled from security cameras from the around the restaurant.
"We can see the race, gender, height, build, the clothing of the perpetrator. You can see many of the perpetrator's actions. We have him shooting on video," Sedita said after the arraignment.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said today there was good reason to arrest Johnson, saying witnesses identified him by name and he was picked out of a photo lineup. His statements to investigators were also inconsistent, and police found clothing with blood on it when they searched his home, the commissioner said.
"We acted on what we had. If we had the same information today and were given the same scenario we would have had the same result," Derenda said. "We acted quickly to rectify a situation where we were wrong and we turned it around as quickly as possible."
Now police are back at working trying to solve one of the worst crimes anyone in Buffalo can remember.
A gunman opened fire around 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning on a crowd of people leaving the popular City Grill restaurant following an informal party to celebrate a couple's first wedding anniversary.
According to police, there had been some kind of dispute inside the restaurant, and the management decided it was best to shut down for the night.
"There were verbal things going on. Management apparently chose to close down and have everybody leave the restaurant," Buffalo police Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards said. "People were leaving when this shooting happened."
Killed in the shooting were 30-year-old Danyell Mackin, who had come from Texas with his wife to celebrate his anniversary; Willie McCaa III, 26; Shawnita McNeil, 27; and Tiffany Wilhite, 32, police said.
James Robb Jr., 27, and Shamar Davis, 30, were listed in stable condition today. Tillman Ward, 27, was shot in the elbow, and was listed in good condition. Demario Vass, 30, was in critical condition, police said.