SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The executive director of the “Near Westside Initiative” has resigned after a park and parking lot owned by the non-profit hosted a massive party where nine people were shot Saturday night.
The president of the group’s board of directors, Sheena Soloman, confirmed the resignation to NewsChannel 9’s Andrew Donovan.
Soloman writes, “Through this process, we have determined that certain policies regarding the rental of our facilities were not followed. As a result, we have accepted the resignation of Executive Director Gregorio Jimenez.”
Soloman didn’t specify if Jimenez himself knew about the party or approved it.
Saturday night, an unclear number of people totaling hundreds to thousands were gathered at the group’s “Performance Park” along West Street, next to WCNY’s studios.
Gang members at the party then fired at each other, leaving nine people hurt, according to the Onondaga County District Attorney, Bill Fitzpatrick.
Police said the youngest victim is a 17-year-old. Sources say he’s on life support in the hospital.
Soloman writes, “We are heartbroken and our sympathy is with the nine shooting victims and their families, as well as event attendees and tenants of the nearby businesses and apartments traumatized by the senseless attack.”
The annual event, known as “Rye Day,” had been moved there for the first time. Even organizer Ryedell Davis tells NewsChannel 9 that he felt he had all the proper approvals in writing, primarily from the Near Westside Initiative
The massive event is being criticized not just for the violence that took place, but for disregard for pandemic-related social gathering limits and a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing.
The non-profit is also reviewing how it approves rental spaces in the future and why the event was first promoted as a Black Lives Matter rally, which now has no known connection to the event, according to the group.
The statement reads, “We are fully cooperating with the Syracuse Police Department in its investigation, including turning over security camera video footage. We urge people who attended the event, or anyone with information about the shooting, to contact police.”
The City of Syracuse, which did not approve the event, confirms its police department was also under the impression the event was related to Black Lives Matter but did intervene when it clearly became an obvious party. No tickets were issued because the policy is to educate about the pandemic and not criminalize it, Mayor Ben Walsh told NewsChannel 9 Monday.