2 charged in double homicide on State Street in Rochester

UPDATE (September 9, 2022): Two men have been arrested, accused of fatally shooting two men on State Street in March, Rochester police said Friday morning.

Marique Simkin, 24, and Harry Phelps, 32, were each charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, both felonies, Rochester Police Department Capt. Frank Umbrino said.

Simkin, who was one of two men shot during the March 13 standoff and survived, is accused of fatally shooting Lonnie Keys Jr., 28, Umbrino said. Phelps is accused of shooting Simkin and killing Charles Robinson, 31, during the standoff. Both men will be arraigned Friday in Municipal Court. Additional charges are pending.

Simkin has been in custody since June 11 after being arrested on multiple warrants stemming from a two-vehicle pursuit. Phelps was arrested Thursday.

UPDATE (March 16, 2022): Rochester police have identified two men who were shot to death on State Street early Sunday morning as Charles Robinson, 31, and Lonnie Keys, 28. Both men were Rochester residents.

Capt. Frank Umbrino of the Rochester Police Department said the two other men who were shot during the incident are recovering from their injuries at Strong Memorial Hospital. The men are in their 20s and their names have not been released.

Police continue to investigate the double homicide. No charges have been filed in connection with the shooting.

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ORIGINAL STORY (March 13, 2022): A multiple shooting that left two dead, a violent climax to a particularly deadly five-day stretch, brought out Rochester city officials Sunday to a similar refrain — a promise that more steps are being taken to stem the tide of bloodshed.

The two homicides early Sunday morning came just two days after a brazen daytime shooting in which a 17-year-old was shot after getting off his school bus Friday afternoon. And, as Interim Police Chief David Smith noted at a news conference Sunday, a 30-year-old man was fatally shot Tuesday as he tried to prevent an apparent carjacking after leaving work.

Police at the scene of the March 13 double homicide at 471 State St.

The city has seen 12 homicides this year, which puts the city on pace for about 60 homicides — down from last year’s record high of 81. However, the summer months tend to be a more violent time, and the recent spate of homicides could be a harbinger of things to come without successful intervention.

“We can’t wait, summer is coming,” Mayor Malik Evans said at a press conference Sunday. “You see what happens in the winter.”

On Sunday, Evans called a press conference to highlight law enforcement initiatives, including working with other agencies in more troubled neighborhoods and increased opportunities for youth. The city hopes to offer hundreds of summer jobs for the city’s youth through a program called Summer of Opportunity, which is accepting applications until March 25.

More: Malik Evans inherits an alphabet soup of anti-violence programs. Can they tune in?

“The mayor must have it”: Malik Evans says preventing violence will be a priority

What can be done?: “Desperation drives all kinds of evil,” including Rochester’s murder rate

The city continues to work with State Police, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, federal officials and the District Attorney’s Office to target more violent neighborhoods and unruly offenders.

“You’re going to see unprecedented collaboration with all of our partners,” Evans said.

Evans said federal law enforcement agencies will work hand-in-hand to try to quell the guns flowing into the region from states with more lenient gun laws. But while these guns are showing up at some crime scenes in the area, a bigger problem is stolen guns that are a significant part of the arms pipeline.

A graph showing the rolling 365-day total of shootings in the city of Rochester records a dramatic increase since 2019.

A graph showing the rolling 365-day total of shootings in the city of Rochester records a dramatic increase since 2019.

Smith acknowledged that Sunday, saying, “A large percentage of our guns … still come from legal New York state gun owners,” he said, imploring gun owners to make sure their firearms are safe.

Officials also highlighted the ongoing work of Pathways to Peace and other anti-violence organizations, as Victor Sanders, the city’s violence prevention adviser, urged people to “put down their guns.”

Residents should be willing to encourage friends and family to find ways to resolve conflicts without violence, Sanders said. Research shows that many homicides involve people who know each other.

Sunday’s double homicide may well fall into that category, as two were killed at 471 State St., home to an after-hours club.

Two other men were also shot and are in stable condition at Strong Memorial Hospital, according to Rochester police.

The multi-unit building at 471 State Street houses the Mile High Hookah Lounge. Police are investigating if that’s where the shooting took place.

The report of the shooting came to police around 1:50 a.m. “Prior to police arrival on the scene additional information was received that multiple people had been shot,” according to a statement from Capt. Ryan Tauriello.

At the scene, the police found a man, about 20 years old, who had been shot. He was taken to Strong, but died of his injuries. Three other men were taken to Strong in “private vehicles,” police said, and one of them — a man in his 30s — also died.

Also last week:

• 17-year-old Bryson Simpson was fatally shot Friday after running off his school bus. He and three friends had gotten off the school bus and were walking on Otis Street when a person fatally shot Simpson and then fled. No one else in Simpson’s group was shot. The killing happened outside of 184 Otis St. around 2:45 p.m

• Shafi Mutombo, 30, was fatally shot just after midnight on Tuesday in Peckham Street. He had just finished his shift at work and was driving a co-worker home when someone confronted the pair in an apparent robbery/carjacking attempt, police said.

During a scuffle, Mutombo was fatally shot. His passenger was not injured. The car did not leave the scene.

(Includes reporting by staff writer Victoria Freile)

Contact Gary Craig at gcraig@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at gcraig1.

This article originally appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: 2 charged in double homicide on State St. in Rochester NY

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