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‘Lowest of the low’ looters ransack Buffalo businesses after deadly snowstorm

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown vowed to come down on looters ‘very aggressively’ after branding them the ‘lowest of the low’

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 27 December 2022 17:18 GMT
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Chilling final video Buffalo woman sent to family as she was stuck in winter storm

Looters have ransacked businesses in Buffalo after the city in western New York state was struck by a historic snowstorm that has so far claimed at least 28 lives.

Footage shows local stores with windows smashed and merchandise stolen and ransacked, while one particularly brazen looter appeared to even livestream herself in the middle of the act.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown vowed to come down on looters “very aggressively” – hours after he branded the perpetrators the “lowest of the low”.

“We will be focusing very aggressively on following up on the crime of looting during these conditions and during this natural disaster in the city of Buffalo,” he said.

“And our goal will be to find as many individuals as possible who have been engaged in this crime.”

City of Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia revealed that the perpetrators are not individuals in need who have resorted to stealing essential goods.

“This isn’t people stealing food and medicine and diapers,” he said, saying that instead they are dealing with opportunistic thieves pilfering the likes of TVs.

Commissioner Gramaglia said that an anti-looting detail has now been launched involving plainclothes officers, with at least four suspects arrested within the last hour alone.

“We know we are going to make more,” he vowed, as he issued a direct warning to the looters that “you are destroying your own community”.

Reports of looting began surfacing on social media over the weekend, as residents in upstate New York faced one of the coldest Christmases on record.

Looters ransack stores in Buffalo after it was struck by historic snowstorm (WGRZ)

In one video, a woman appeared to livestream herself inside a ransacked store as she boasted that she was there to “have a good time”.

Other footage and images showed individuals carrying items out of stores, overturned shelves and windows of businesses shattered to pieces.

The storm-related death toll has now climbed to at least 28 in the city of Buffalo alone, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

That number is expected to climb higher as search efforts continue to find people trapped in cars, homes and out in the snow.

“We believe the death toll will rise as we continue the search efforts and move snow mounds throughout the city,” said the mayor.

Among the victims is a 22-year-old woman who died in her car after sending a chilling final video to her family on her way home from work.

Anndel Taylor was driving home on Friday afternoon when her car became stranded in the snow.

She remained trapped inside the car for around 18 hours while Winter Storm Elliot raged on all around her, her family said.

During those terrifying hours, the 22-year-old told her family members she was “scared” and sent two chilling videos capturing the extreme blizzard blowing around her.

Anndel Taylor is one of at least 28 people so far killed in Buffalo (GoFundMe)

Sometime later, the family – who are based in Charlotte, North Carolina – lost contact with her and hours later she was found dead inside her car.

As well as the 28 victims who died as a direct result of the winter storm, officials said that there are at least a dozen natural deaths where their bodies need to be or in the process of being recovered.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has described Buffalo as “a war zone” and President Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaratio, authorising FEMA to send in resources to help the state.

While Buffalo has been hardest-hit by the extreme weather wrought by Storm Elliot, a total of 63 deaths have been confirmed across the country.

Holiday travel has also been plunged into chaos with around 20,000 flights cancelled across the long weekend according to FlightAware.com.

Airlines are still struggling to get back on schedule with around 2,800 flights grounded as of Tuesday morning.

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