BUFFALO — A Buffalo man was convicted Thursday on charges he opened fire outside a downtown restaurant over the summer, killing four and wounding four others, a verdict that a victim’s relative said was “like a weight was lifted.”
Riccardo McCray, 24, showed no visible emotion as an Erie County jury found him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and weapons possession. The murder charges could send him to prison for life with no chance of parole.
About 40 family members, many of whom sat through seven days of testimony that included graphic video surveillance and autopsy photos, were in the courtroom for the 10:30 p.m. verdict, delivered after seven hours of deliberations. Some cried and held hands as it was read.
“It was like a weight was lifted,” said Dorothy Wilhite, whose 32-year-old daughter Tiffany was among those killed. “I’ve been so down for the last seven months without my child. It’s like I got a new spirit.”
McCray didn’t testify. In an interview at a television station where he turned himself in 11 days after the shooting, he said he was at the restaurant when shots erupted but wasn’t the shooter.
Among the prosecution’s 49 witnesses were five eyewitnesses who identified McCray — some by his nickname “Murder” — as the lone gunman among a crowd of people who’d emptied out of the City Grill in Buffalo after managers shut it down following an early morning fight Aug. 14.
Prosecutors said he fired 10 shots in 17 seconds.
Defense attorney Joseph Terranova had hoped to sway jurors away from believing the witnesses, pointing out that it was an eyewitness who initially “positively” identified someone else as the shooter and that others might have been motivated to cooperate in hopes of favorable treatment for their own pending criminal cases.
“This case is one finagler after another,” Terranova said, calling the prosecution’s witnesses “a long line of self-serving people who are playing you for all they can do.”
The victims had been attending a promoter-organized party. It was shut down after a dispute over spilled Champagne, according to testimony.
Several relatives gasped and cried as prosecutor James Bargnesi replayed surveillance video from an outdoor camera showing a wounded Danyell Mackin lying face down on Main Street and trying to cover his head as the gunman ran toward him and appeared to fire a second time into his back. Mackin, who was celebrating his first wedding anniversary, is seen getting up and staggering toward a female cousin, who caught him as he collapsed and died.
“This is a simple case,” Bargnesi said. “A simple case of disgusting and senseless terror and gun violence.”
Ballistics evidence showed all victims were killed with the same 9 mm handgun. A witness testified he threw the gun off a bridge at the instruction of a friend of McCray’s who drove McCray from the restaurant.
Killed along with Mackin, 30, and Wilhite were Willie McCaa III, 26, and Shawntia McNeil, 27.
“He still gets to live on and see his loved ones,” McCaa’s aunt Rita McCaa said of McCray after the verdict. “We don’t.”