By Tom Dinki
Ellicottville officials believe Saturday night’s shooting was an isolated incident that won’t deter the roughly 1.5 million visitors who come through the village each year.
One man reportedly shot another man once with a legally possessed Glock handgun near Washington and Monroe streets, the main intersection of the downtown’s popular restaurant and shopping area, after the two had fought and been removed from the nearby Villaggio restaurant and bar.
The alleged shooter, Damien M. Marvin, 25, of Salamanca, remained at the scene and was charged with first-degree assault, a class B felony.
The 41-year-old victim was in critical condition at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo as of Sunday, according to New York State Police.
Ellicottville Mayor John Burrell told the Olean Times Herald Monday that he does not feel the incident is indicative of the safeness of the village or its bar scene.
“I think it’s very isolated. I don’t believe that the establishment did anything wrong. It’s not their fault, it’s not Ellicottville’s fault,” he said. “It’s a tragic incident, but it’s obviously a one-time type of thing.”
Burrell, a 73-year-old, lifelong resident of Ellicottville and former firefighter, said he could not recall another shooting in the village.
According to city-data.com, a website that tracks crime statistics, Ellicottville had 21 reported assaults in 10 years between 2002 and 2012. There were no murders or robberies.
“We turn on the TV or open the newspaper and we see it happening all over Western New York, but not in Ellicottville,” he said of gun violence. “But, certainly, it can happen in Ellicottville.”
Ellicottville has built its reputation as a small but affluent ski town that offers an array of shopping, eating and drinking options. The Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce estimates that the village, with its 400 residents, receives more than 1.5 million visitors annually. Holiday Valley ski resort reports that it alone receives about 500,000 skiers a season.
Officials with the chamber, which represents about 200 local businesses, said Monday they don’t think news of the shooting will impact those figures.
“There’s still people walking through town today,” said Barb Pump, the chamber’s communications, events and membership manager. “So I think everyone knows that it is an isolated incident, that Ellicottville is a safe place.”
Residents and visitors who were out on Washington Street Sunday afternoon and spoke with the Times Herald said that they still feel safe, although the event has made them realize the village is not immune to such incidents.
“I think it’s like any place — any place could be dangerous,” said Philip Beer, a Buffalo resident who regularly visits Ellicottville. “So just be careful.”
With Ellicottville having its own town police department and being centrally located within Cattaraugus County, Burrell said the village has the emergency personnel to keep its residents and visitors safe.
“We’re very cognizant of the type of people that come here and what they come here for,” he said. “Most of it is for recreation, and they need to know that we’re not waiting on a regular basis for a county sheriff’s deputy or a state police officer to respond from Hinsdale or South Dayton or Ashford. … You want to see a police car, you want to see the ambulance responding, especially if you’re — as many of our part-time visitors are — from a city. If you drive through Ellicottville on a Saturday night, you will see one or two police cars and that’s very important for us.”
Burrell said that was on display Saturday night. State police were already in the area at the time of the shooting and responded to the scene in fewer than five minutes before being joined by Ellicottville police and Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office deputies, according to Burrell. The mayor also said that EMS services had the victim transported to ECMC within an hour.
“There was nothing more that could have been done in any community than was done here, from a response basis,” he said.
Like the chamber, Burrell said he doesn’t believe the shooting will keep people from visiting the village.
“Obviously, people are going to be aware of it because it was on the news and in the paper,” he said, “but I think that as mayor and as a resident of the community, we go forward and we look at the positives that transpired immediately after the incident (in regard to the emergency response).”