A longtime Batavia resident is calling upon the City of Batavia to take responsibility for “destroying my home and hindering me mentally and physically” in the aftermath of Monday’s 20-hour standoff at his Liberty Street residence.
“I am a victim of this,” said David Zanghi, 66, who lives in the downstairs apartment at 209 Liberty St. “The only ones who caused damage to my house were the police. They were very non-caring.”
Zanghi was forced to evacuate his downstairs apartment when City Police responded to a domestic disturbance call around 1:18 p.m. Monday.
According to dispatch reports, the caller said an intoxicated male hit a female and was in possession of a sword.
When police arrived, they saw that the male, later identified as Daniel Wolfe, 45, had barricaded himself inside his apartment upstairs and began shooting at officers with a pellet (BB) rifle.
The standoff continued until around 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday, finally coming to an end when Wolfe exited the residence and surrendered to City Police Det. Sgt. Kevin Czora.
During the standoff, City Police were assisted by several other agencies, including the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; Orleans County SWAT; State Police troopers; negotiators; drone unit; K-9 unit; and SORT teams; the NYS DEC K-9 Unit; Monroe County Crisis Negotiating Team; Genesee County Emergency Management; Genesee County Dispatch Center; City Fire Department; and Mercy EMS.
Wolfe sustained self-inflicted injuries and was transported for treatment to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Currently, he is in Genesee County Jail.
While the suspect faces multiple charges, Zanghi, who is on dialysis waiting a kidney transplant and suffers from emotional and physical ailments, now is staying with a relative in the City due to the damage inflicted upon his residence.
“They destroyed my house … busted all the windows, my clothes are shot because of the tear gas. I may be able to get the couch fixed. It’s ridiculous what they did to me,” he said.
Zanghi reported that his landlord, Duane Preston, has promised him another apartment in mid-December.
“Duane has been good to me,” he said. “He even gave me my rent check back for the month.”
Zanghi also said that he is upset that no one from the City has contacted him about the possibility of receiving some victim assistance support, and plans to confront City Council and management at the next City Council meeting on Monday (Nov. 25).
City officials, however, did respond to a request from The Batavian for a comment in light of Zanghi’s grievances.
“While the City sympathizes with Mr. Zanghi as an innocent bystander to the events that unfolded Tuesday, November 18th, there is no specific assistance that the City can offer,” Assistant City Manager Rachael J. Tabelski said.
“In any type of emergency response situation there will be unintended consequences, however the city is not liable for the damage. There are many organizations and individuals that volunteer to help residents in need, and I am hopeful Mr. Zanghi will find relief through these individuals and organizations.”
Zanghi said that his sister, Mary Ellen Wilber, who splits her time between New Jersey and Batavia, will represent him at the meeting.
Contacted by phone this afternoon, Wilber said she is “disgusted” over the City’s lack of action despite being contacted numerous times about Wolfe’s violent behavior.
“I will be there to advocate for my brother, who has called police at least seven times over the past year, year and a half, about this guy,” she said. “He’s an alcoholic who has harmed the woman (girlfriend). All those times David called and it’s all for naught.”
Wilber said law enforcement’s actions have “traumatized” her brother, who is on a fixed income and under the care of the VA Medical Center.
“He had to go to the hospital to get his medicine because all of his pills, along with his clothes and bedding, were contaminated.
“They shot tear gas canisters into David’s downstairs apartment, knowing the guy was upstairs,” she said. “They destroyed his apartment.”
Wilber said she also questions the way the situation was handled and the cost to the City.
“I was told that the police said they were using this as a tactical exercise,” she said. “It should have never gone on this long. They could have used a Taser instead of attacking him with a dog. The cost to the City is going to be very high. They could have done things in a much better way.”
Photos by Howard Owens
David Zanghi points to a window broken by police actions.
David Zanghi said a CS gas canister apparently exploded in his bedroom. He's pointing to all the medicine on his dresser that the VA had to replace for him. He said he has expensive suits, including a $1,500 tux, that now reak of tear gas and he's not sure they can be properly cleaned.