House of Mercy leader speaks out after being fatally stabbed

ROCHESTER, NY – For the first time since the brutal stabbing of two men at the House of Mercy, the executive director is speaking out.

Stepping in the door as the new executive director of the House of Mercy in early March, Dr. Tammy Butler knew she had her hands full, but never expected what would happen months later. late.

“It was a tragedy for our organization and it was also a tragedy for the community,” Butler said.

Just after midnight on August 7, two shelter guests were brutally stabbed. Michael Nairy was killed and Cameron Schuler was seriously injured.

“I just want to extend my condolences to all the families involved,” Butler said. “And while I continue to have them in my prayers, I know it’s never enough, but we are certainly thinking of them every day as we go through this traumatic event.”

The shelter has been closed since the crime, displacing the nearly 80 residents who were there at the time.

Butler explains: “When the incident actually happened, it was about understanding, how do we get through this crisis? So phone calls to colleagues, partners of mine from other agencies, or times when I’ve worked in the community, contacting the Monroe County Office of Mental Health saying, “We need a crisis mobile here. We need trauma support. Not just for our staff, but also for our customers.’”

Some of these guests are lingering outside the establishment waiting for the doors to reopen.

September 1 was the target date, but the shelter needs more time.

When asked if there is a date set for the reopening, Butler replies, “No, there is no date yet. We are still working with the state… It’s not just about opening doors… It’s about the number of people we serve, but how can we serve the right number of people to ensure we provide the support they need to move through the continuum of care for housing? »

Butler talks about some of the changes and next steps: “Really reviewing our policies and procedures and improving them. Improving our security measures that we have. Training our staff on the new changes… We only have one entry and a single exit area. We have identified our emergency exit points, so we are also considering hiring security guards. And we are reviewing our processes at reception to ensure that people entering are for services and the services and supports we can provide.

While former residents wait to hear when the facility can welcome them back, the new chef says they will take it day by day.

“Coming into this role as a woman of color, as an executive director, my goal was never to take anyone’s place,” Butler said. “I know this has been discussed in the community. I work hand in hand with Sister Grace. But again, as we go through this process there is administrative work that needs to be done and how we articulate this information to our team really helps shape how we go from there. ‘before.

Part of the reopening effort is coming from the community. Businesses in the region are mobilizing and offering their help.

“We have such amazing neighbors,” said Brian Keene, House of Mercy facilities and transportation manager. “One of the strengths of this neighborhood is that all of these business owners really, really believe that the House of Mercy should be open, and they believe that Rochester, and this neighborhood in particular, is much better off with us open than firm.

Keene fielded calls from those offering to step in and point to an add-on to the new entry, saying, “Someone came and built this whole add-on here in a week at no cost.”

The entrance includes a metal detector that anyone entering the building will have to walk through.

“I think our team here is really on board to effectively implement the changes, but remain committed to serving this population,” Butler said.

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