By Maki Becker and Brian Meyer
Two people were shot, one fatally, early Thursday after leaving a party on the second floor of this 14th Street home.
A West Seneca family spent Christmas mourning the death of a young woman who was fatally shot early Thursday as she left a holiday party on Buffalo’s West Side.
Police identified the victim as Sarah Ernst, 18, of Seneca Street, West Seneca.
An acquaintance — Breion Collins, 19, of Esperar Street in Buffalo— also was shot and was listed in serious condition Thursday night in Erie County Medical Center.
Investigators said the two were shot at about 2:25 a.m. as they got into her SUV after leaving a house party on 14th Street.
They managed to drive away but stopped at Albany Street. Ernst was pronounced dead at the scene, and Collins was taken by ambulance to the medical center.
Police said they believe one person was responsible for the shootings, but they had yet to make an arrest or pinpoint a motive.
Michael DeGeorge, police spokesman, said investigators were not sure whether the assailant was at the party with the victims.
“The motive is still under investigation,” DeGeorge said, adding that detectives were interviewing witnesses throughout the day.
A woman who was at the party told The Buffalo News that the people holding the get-together were ushering guests — many unknown to them — out of the house just before the attack.
The party was intended to be a small family event, but many others showed up unexpectedly.
Family members had resumed the party after clearing out the house, turning the music back up, when they received a phone call alerting them to the shooting, said the woman, who declined to give her name.
“They said there were gunshots and somebody got killed,” she said.
The woman added that no one in the upper apartment, where the party was held, had heard the gunshots.
She said no one there knew the victims, either. The woman was among several people questioned by police.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene on 14th Street.
Aisha Mohamad, 21, a student at the Adult Learning Center, said she was up studying for an exam when she heard the commotion.
“I told my sister, ‘Somebody is shooting!’ ” Mohamad said.
She ran to the front window and saw people frantically running around the street.
“They were screaming so loud,” she said. “They were smacking the cars.”
She said she was horrified to learn that the young woman who was shot had died.
“Oh my god,” Mohamad said. “That’s so sad.”
She also pointed to another violent altercation on the block a few months ago and worried about safety on the street.
“I told my family, ‘Let’s move,’ ” she said.
The victim’s family members in West Seneca and elsewhere were grieving Thursday.
Her grandmother said she was too upset to be interviewed.
William Ernst, the victim’s uncle in Pennsylvania, said his brother, the young woman’s father, was devastated.
He described his niece as delightful.
“She was a wonderful person,” he said. “It’s a terrible tragedy.”
He said he last saw her at her cousin’s wedding.
“She was a delight,“ he said. “She was very optimistic.”
Anyone with information about the shooting should call the police confidential tip line at 847-2255.