Benefit to Honor Craig Lehner a Success

Money raised will go to purchase of new K-9 Officer

Mike Baggerman
November 16, 2017 - 11:15 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Hundreds of dollars were raised within the first hour of Officer Craig Lehner's benefit on Thursday night at Club Marcella in Downtown Buffalo.

Lehner went missing in the Niagara River on October 13 during a training mission with the Buffalo Police Department. He was found deceased by his fellow members of Buffalo's Underwater Rescue and Recovery Team.

While the atmosphere at Club Marcella on Thursday was as upbeat as you'd expect at a downtown club, there was still the memory of Lehner hovering in the vicinity.

"It's been a very tough month," Lieutenant Sal Losi, who is the Commander of the K-9 Unit, said. "As a small unit we trained together and spent a lot of time together. Not unlike the dive team. It's been very tough. It's helped keeping (Shield) active because Shield, like any working dog, would stress out by doing nothing. We've all taken turns keeping him busy."

Shield was at the benefit but only made a brief cameo because Losi believed it may have been a little stressful to him with all the strangers around.

Proceeds from the benefit went toward the purchase of a new K-9 Officer for the Buffalo Police Department, which could cost upwards of $8,000 to $11,000 depending on the breed, according to Buffalo Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo.

"The public has really come together for this event," Rinaldo said. "I think there's over 113 different baskets that were donated to help raise money...It speaks as a testament to the City of Good Neighbors. It's unfortunate that a tragedy has to occur for people to spotlight this kind of stuff but we're a great city and great people."

Club Marcella's owner, Joe Marcella, told WBEN that he's done similar benefits in the past but the one for Officer Lehner was the largest one he's done yet.

"We have to remember we are a community," Marcella said. "Unfortunately when things like this happen we (look at) our mortality. We all really look at our mortality...My motto is 'I have to leave this world better than I found it'."

The amount raised as a whole hasn't been announced yet.

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