A problem bar in the Chippewa Entertainment District and an East Side street with a deadly reputation figure into this year’s increasing number of city homicides – 40 to date and nine more than the same time last year.
Two people have been killed after leaving the Big Bad Wolf Saloon, and two others have died on or near Genesee Street on the East Side.
Most of these killings have in common gang or drug connections, according to police and neighbors, who say the violence is often revenge-motivated and bent on making a point of who is the “baddest.”
As Roderick Peoples Jr. stepped from the rear door of the Big Bad Wolf into a parking lot just before 4 a.m. last Saturday, the 32-year-old man was fatally shot. Two other men were wounded.
Less than 24 hours later, Todd J. Pointer, 24, was shot dead in a vacant lot at Genesee Street and Jefferson Avenue. Another man was wounded.
Two days later, Barelle Harris, 28, was killed on Genesee near Goodyear.
Police say they are looking into possible connections among the three homicides.
“Big Bad Wolf is a public menace. We’d like to see it shut down. It had been temporarily closed for allowing underage people inside,” a police official said.
That closing happened last June.
The bar reopened not long after, and the violence quickly resumed.
Just after 4:30 a.m. Aug. 19, James Henley, 27, was killed by gunfire a hundred yards from the rear of the bar, after spending time inside the club, police said.
Approximately 20 bars operate in the thriving club district, and Central District Police Chief Brian K. Patterson says that he relies on the owners to keep order. Not the case with the Big Bad Wolf.
“When a bar such as the Big Bad Wolf requires a disproportionate amount of police protection to break up weekly gang-on-gang fights inside and outside of the premises, we know that that bar is a detriment to the continued success of growing the entertainment district,” Patterson said.
He added that he has had several conversations with the management at the Big Bad Wolf.
“I have offered sound security advice only to be disappointed and frustrated at the continued violence and mayhem occurring at this club,” he said.
Kirk Kubiak, the bar’s owner, could not be reached to comment, despite phone calls and visits to the bar, which is on the 200 block of Delaware Avenue, between West Chippewa Street and South Johnson Park.
Unlike other night spots in the entertainment district that advertise drink specials in their front windows, a sign on the front of Big Bad Wolf last week offered a warning:
“Any one caught using, carrying drugs or weapons on these premises will be prosecuted. – management BBW.” A cartoon image of a fanged and drooling wolf punctuated the admonition.
State Liquor Authority officials said they are working with Buffalo police, investigating the latest shooting outside the bar. But it won’t be easy.
That’s because the two men who were wounded in the attack that killed Peoples and the man wounded in the attack that killed Pointer either refused to cooperate or are minimally cooperating.
Some two miles east of the empty lot where Pointer was killed at 2:50 a.m. Sunday is the 500 block of Goodyear Avenue, which starts at the intersection of Genesee Street. That’s where Harris was shot five times – once in the head – at 1:20 p.m. Tuesday.
He was rushed to Erie County Medical Center, where he later died and became the 40th homicide victim this year.
Earlier this year, another man was killed near that same spot on Goodyear. A white dove plaque hammered to a utility pole memorializes: “Rest In Peace Darrell Anderson,” who was killed there 3:50 p.m. July 1. A teen was later charged in that killing.