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Press Release

Four Defendants Charged In Two Separate Indictments For Their Roles In Incidents Of Violence Associated With Civil Unrest In Buffalo

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Deyanna Davis, 30, Semaj Pigram, 25, and Walter Stewart, 28, all of Buffalo, NY, with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. 

Assistant U.S. Seth T. Molisani, who is handling that case, stated that according to the indictment, on June 1, 2020, all three defendants were in possession of a semi-automatic 9mm handgun despite previous felony convictions. Davis was previously been convicted in March 2010, in Erie County Court; Pigram was previously convicted in June 2016, in Erie County Court; and Stewart was previously convicted in July 2012, also in Erie County Court. As a result of these convictions, the defendants are legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The firearm that the defendants are each charged with unlawfully possessing was discovered inside a vehicle in which the trio were travelling on June 1, 2020. The vehicle was stopped shortly after it is alleged to have struck and injured both a Buffalo Police Officer and a New York State Trooper in the vicinity of Bailey Avenue.

In addition, the federal grand jury has returned a separate indictment charging Courtland Renford, 20, of Buffalo, NY, with arson of a building, Buffalo City Hall, used in interstate commerce, which is punishable by a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, and a maximum of 20 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremiah E. Lenihan, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, on May 30, 2020, during a gathering of protesters in Niagara Square in Buffalo, an individual, later identified as the defendant, was captured on video approaching Buffalo City Hall, carrying a green laundry basket that contained a fire. Renford then threw the burning laundry basket into a window of Buffalo City Hall, causing a fire inside. Buffalo Fire Department personnel extinguished the fire, which destroyed and/or damaged items inside. News cameras captured the defendant throwing his hands up after he had thrown the flaming laundry basket into City Hall. Investigators identified Renford after sending out an alert. He was taken into custody at his Buffalo residence on June 1, 2020.

“This Office will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to continue to do everything in our power to deliver justice to our community,” states United States Attorney Kennedy. “We will continue to work seamlessly together in order to deliver the strongest and clearest message possible to those who might be considering engaging in or inciting violence and mayhem in our community that such acts will not be tolerated.”

The indictments are the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major James Hall, and Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly. Additional assistance was provided by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney John Flynn.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Updated June 4, 2020