The death toll in Buffalo, NY, has risen to 31 after the deadliest winter storm in 50 years struck the area, bringing freezing temperatures and overwhelming snowfall.
As roads in the city remain impassable due to the heavy snow, many remain trapped in their homes and vehicles as first responders struggle to conduct search-and-rescue efforts. As residents struggle to survive the incredible storm, chaos reigns inside convenience and department stores, as well as independently-owned small businesses, where individuals and groups who lack a moral compass are using the misfortune of others to steal everything from a single can of soda to big-screen televisions.
Videos posted on social media show lawless individuals stealing snacks and other items from convenience stores.
Another video shows two thieves carrying a giant big screen TV through the snowy streets while a woman accompanies them, wearing only a fleece jacket and sweatpants.
So far, the Buffalo Police Department has arrested eight people.
One female actually made a Facebook live video of herself stealing from a Target store while accusing others of being jealous who condemned her actions. A woman in the background can be heard asking where she can find baby wipes.
Daily Mail reports – A video taken by a man outside the Sky’s The Limit hair salon on Bailey Avenue warns individuals that the local Arab small business community has taken up arms against looters.
The group is seen confronting a suspect in the streets. It then chases the person down the snow-covered driveway of the salon, with panicked screams heard in the background as one of the men opens fire at the fleeing suspect.
Watch the store owner chase the thieves around the back of the store and then shoot his gun in their direction:
Abdul Sharifu, 26, a refugee from the Congo who went out to buy groceries for his nine-month-pregnant wife, died while attempting to weather the incredible storm.
One man noted that these thieves weren’t stealing food or medicine from the stores they looted, saying, “So these people aren’t in distress – these are people that are taking advantage of a natural disaster and the suffering of many in our community to take what they want from retailers.”
One liquor store’s security footage caught a man breaking the window and stealing $500 worth of goods. The store owner reported that he stayed overnight in the store after this break-in because he couldn’t board up the broken window.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz reported that 14 people in the county died of exposure; three were found in their vehicles, four died from not having heat, three died while shoveling snow/snow blowing, and three passed away after EMS services were delayed due to the storm.
“I am aware of additional bodies that have been recovered and are being brought to our temporary morgue,” Poloncarz reported. “We’ve had so many bodies that various hospitals are full, and we’re just having to go through and determine if the individuals have died from a blizzard-related death.”
“It’s just been a horrible situation,” he said.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency, pleading for federal aid as 10,000 people are without power and residents are running out of food.