A man was arrested today and charged with four counts of murder in the shooting early this morning at a Buffalo, N.Y., restaurant that left four people dead, including a man who had come from Texas with his wife to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary.
Keith Johnson, 25, of Buffalo, was charged with four counts of murder in the second degree and additional charges are pending, Buffalo Police Department Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards said in a statement released this evening.
Police said they believe Johnson was the only gunman involved in the shooting.
Investigators believe Johnson was inside the City Grill restaurant when some kind of dispute broke out.
"There were verbal things going on. Management apparently chose to close down and have everybody leave the restaurant," Richards said. "People were leaving when this shooting happened."
The victims were believed to be all members of a large group of people celebrating on the eve of a party for the couple's one-year wedding anniversary.
"There may have been some other people in the restaurant at the same time," police spokesman Michael DeGeorge said. "There was some type of dispute that occurred in the restaurant. It spilled outside, and that's where the shooting occurred."
The couple live in Texas, but had come to Buffalo to celebrate with friends in the area, police said.
There were approximately 100 people at the restaurant at the time of the shooting, and at a news conference this afternoon, Buffalo police commissioner Daniel Derenda asked anybody who saw anything to contact police.
"We know there's plenty of people out there that witnessed this tragic event," Derenda said. "We need them to come forward."
Police have not yet released the names of the victims, pending family notification, DeGeorge said.
Three people died on the scene and the fourth died later at the hospital, DeGeorge said.
Two of the people who died were women, aged 27 and 32, and two were men, the 30-year-old who was celebrating his anniversary and a 26-year-old, police said.
The 30-year-old man's wife was not injured in the shooting, police said.
Of the wounded, two men, 27 and 30 years old, were listed in stable condition; another 27-year-old man was listed in good condition with agunshot wound to the elbow; and a 30-year-old man was in critical condition, police said.
DeGeorge, a lifelong resident of Buffalo, said he could not remember a worse incident in the city, and Richards said it was among the worst shootings he had seen in his 30 years on the force.
"It's a very serious, somber incident," Richards said.
Raymond Wilhite, who had left the restaurant before the shooting but returned a few hours it occurred, told The Associated Press that his 32-year-old daughter, Tiffany Wilhite, was among the victims.
"A senseless, random killing," Wilhite said. "This kind of thing just has to stop."
The other woman was identified by her mother as Shawntia McNeil, who was Wilhite's cousin.
"There's no words to explain how I feel," McNeil's mother, Ruby Martin, told the AP. "She got along with everybody. She knows a lot of people. She didn't deserve to be killed. I'm pretty sure it wasn't intended for her."
Tommy Dates, 35, of Buffalo, told the AP he was in the restaurant's bar with friends when he noticed a party had broken up. He said people started leaving the restaurant but rushed back inside a few minutes later.