One Dead, Three Injured in Thanksgiving Gay Night Club Shooting

Police are investigating a homicide at Rocks Bar on Central Avenue in Albany. They say one person was killed in the early morning shooting.

The shooter is still on the loose, but a dinner scheduled at the bar before the shooting went on as planned. Organizers say senseless violence will not get in the way of enjoying what's important on Thanksgiving.

"It's just amazing to be able to share Thanksgiving and celebrate unity and diversity which is what this time of the year should be about," explained Oklahoma native, Kris Niehoff, a patron.

Niehoff was at Rocks Bar in Albany for its annual Thanksgiving dinner for people in need of a good meal and someone to share it with.

It was a much different scene less than 24 hours beforehand, when a shooting killed one person and wounded four others.

Albany police spokesman Steve Smith says officers responded to the popular gay bar and discovered the victims around 2 a.m.

"Two males and two females sustained a gunshot wound inside the bar. One male later died at Albany Medical Center hospital as a result of his injuries the three other victims all sustained non-life-threatening injuries," noted Smith.

Property owner Peter Hitchcock says the shooting happened in Rocks Nightclub on the other side of the bar.

"We had a promoter over next-door and they had a nice party going on and stuff and it was just one bad apple in the bunch," he explained.

Police say this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community but it wasn't random either.

"This was an isolated incident," assured Smith.

A statement from the Pride Center of the Capital Region issued Thursday reads:

"Regardless, an act of violence happened in one of our community spaces and a life was lost in one of our sanctuaries."

Meantime Hitchcock says this is the bar's ninth annual Thanksgiving dinner and they aren't going to let senseless violence stop them from serving the community.

"Since the day this place has opened up we've never been closed one day. We're not going let somebody try to turn around and discourage people," declared Hitchcock.

Niehoff says the tragedy shows him how much he has to be thankful for, including the new family he's found at Rocks.

"This place is family, sort of like the show ‘Cheers’ where everybody knows your name. The bartenders are all my family. Everyone that comes here I know most of them," he noted.

The owner says this is a first for the bar and there was plenty of security the night of the shooting. He also says he's handed over the bar's surveillance footage to police, and he does not believe the shooter was one of the shooting victims.


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