A man who was fatally shot Wednesday night on the city’s East Side lay bleeding at the scene for 20 to 30 minutes before an ambulance arrived, multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of the incident told The Buffalo News.
Kristopher Pride, 25, of Buffalo, was shot shortly before 7:30 p.m. while riding a bicycle on the 100 block of Keystone Avenue near Walden and Bailey avenues, police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge confirmed Thursday. Pride was transported to Erie County Medical Center, where police said he later died.
Multiple individuals who either witnessed the shooting or knew someone who did contacted The News on Thursday to report that, after Pride was shot, he remained on Keystone Avenue for as long as half an hour before being transported to ECMC.
For some, who asked that their names not be revealed, the gap between shots being fired and an ambulance arriving called into question the city’s ability to respond quickly when a life was on the line. One source gave a step-by-step account of the incident, describing how police were the first to respond to the 911 call reporting the shooting, followed by the Fire Department. The unnamed witness said police and fire personnel attempted to help the victim, who was “alive and talking,” while radioing dispatch to hurry the ambulance.
About 25 minutes later, the source estimated, an ambulance from Twin City Ambulance arrived.
A Rural/Metro spokesman confirmed that a Twin City ambulance – not a Rural/Metro vehicle – transported Pride to ECMC.
As the city’s designated ambulance service provider, Rural/Metro is the first to be contacted in the event of an emergency. But Brian Lawson, director of public affairs for Rural/Metro, said a series of factors beyond the company’s control forced Rural/Metro to call in another ambulance company Wednesday night, which caused the delay witnesses to the shooting reported.
According to Lawson, Rural/Metro experienced a “huge spike in volume” Wednesday night and was responding to significantly more emergencies than in a normal period when Pride was shot. At about 7:30 p.m., Lawson said, Rural/Metro was dealing with 11 calls in the city alone and had 12 of its ambulances tied up outside area hospitals waiting to transfer patients to the emergency room.
Three minutes after Rural/Metro received the initial call, the decision was made to trigger a procedure called “mutual aid,” which allows Rural/Metro to enlist the help of a peer ambulance, Lawson said. At that point, a Twin City ambulance was called to the scene of the Keystone Avenue shooting. Lawson estimated that the Twin City ambulance took between 10 and 15 minutes to arrive on the scene after receiving the call.
Multiple sources said they believe that Pride’s life could have been saved if he had been transported to the hospital more quickly. Lawson declined to comment on that claim, saying he had not been briefed on particulars of the case and citing victim privacy regulations. However, he stated that, “looking at the information we have, it was just a big spike in volume at that time of night” that caused the delay.
Lawson said such spikes are both unpredictable and inevitable but tend to occur more frequently during the summer months. He added that the recent heat wave may have played a role in the unusual number of emergencies.
Lawson said Rural/Metro would factor Wednesday’s incident into its continual efforts to improve response time and quality of care.
Police spokesman DeGeorge and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield declined to comment on their departments’ roles in the emergency response, saying that they had not been briefed on the incident as of Thursday evening.
The city last week granted Rural/Metro a six-month contract extension and is preparing to solicit bids for longer-term ambulance services in hopes of having a contract in place by Jan. 1.
No arrests have been made in the Pride shooting. Buffalo police ask anyone with information about the shooting to call or text the Confidential TIPCALL Line at 847-2255 or email the department at www.bpdny.org.