SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Just as police detectives try to figure out which gang members fired at whom on Saturday night, other city leaders are investigating how the party with hundreds in attendance was allowed in the first place.
The event, known as “Rye Day” and organized by liquor store owner and active community member Ryedell Davis, was held for the first time at “Performance Park,” a parking lot and park along West Street.
Around 7 p.m. on Saturday, Davis posted a photo to his Facebook page which shows a group of about 30 people who were not social distancing or wearing masks.
Two hours later, police from every corner of Onondaga County were rushing to what was reported to 911 as hundreds to thousands of people at the party when shots were fired.
Nine people were hurt, including the most seriously injured 17-year-old who is now in critical condition.
The City of Syracuse did not allow a permit for the event, but a non-profit group that owns the park, the Near West Side Initiative, did have some knowledge of the gathering.
In an email sent to nearby apartment renters Saturday, the group’s director of operations, wrote, “A BLM festival (will) be taking part in the Performance Park Lot from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. today.”
BLM stands for Black Lives Matter.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh confirms to NewsChannel 9 that, the day before, someone tipped police off to a gathering that sounded more like a protest than a party. While protesting hasn’t been stopped due to COVID-19 regulations, a party would likely be enforced differently.
Walsh said police did respond to the gathering Saturday and informed the owner it was not appropriate. Walsh said the notice was left at a warning, consistent with police policy to not criminalize the pandemic.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said at his daily briefing, “The gathering should have never happened. Right now, [there are] complicated community policing relations that probably led to some of the decision made with how to community police an event like that.”
While the Syracuse Police Chief was not willing to do an interview Monday, the Onondaga County District Attorney tells NewsChannel 9 that up to six shooters are suspected.
Detectives are requesting and looking through surveillence footage and cell phone images to try and identify the shooters.
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For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan.