Buffalo Police Commissioner slams parolees with guns following 'point-blank' shots at two cops

A murder suspect missed two police officers after firing his handgun through their windshield

By Robert J. Mccarthy
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia says he is amazed that a murder suspect missed two police officers Friday night after firing his handgun through their windshield at "point-blank range" on Broadway.

"Thank God he did," he said at a Sunday afternoon news conference, referring to the misses, "or it would be a completely different story here."

But the commissioner said he is also amazed that the suspect, now facing charges of first-degree attempted murder after being hit eight times by return fire, was on the streets in the first place. In 28 years of police work, he said, he has never seen such gun activity aimed at officers as in the past few months.

"I have a real issue with the fact that convicted felons on probation or parole are confident enough to pick up a handgun and walk around," Gramaglia said. "This individual was on parole.

"I can only guess that what was in this individual's mind was that he had no fear of the criminal justice system," he added. "He had no fears as to what was going to happen to him if he was caught with that gun. We need violent offenders behind bars."

Police Sunday afternoon said the suspect is Nakeem Haynes, 27, of Buffalo. The victim was identified as Atlas Johnson, 63, also of Buffalo.

Gramaglia recounted for reporters the 7:15 p.m. Friday incident that stemmed from a separate fatal shooting in the same area on Broadway at Sears Street near the Broadway Market. Officers on routine patrol came upon the suspect immediately after the shooting, he said, which left one man dead. The officers drove their car toward the suspect, who ended up on the patrol car's hood after it struck a building. He then turned and fired into the windshield, Gramaglia said, just between them in the front seat.

The alleged shooter then took off on foot, he said, while the pair of officers gave chase and apprehended him almost two blocks away. At that point he was shot eight times in the chest, shoulder, side, lower back and thigh. The officers administered first aid at the scene before the suspect was transported to Erie County Medical Center, where he remains under arrest and is reported in critical but stable condition.

"He is expected to survive," Gramaglia said.

The trouble at the shooting scene continued, however, as a crowd the commissioner described as "hostile" gathered. One person at the scene was subdued by a Taser and charged. Police also recovered a .45 caliber Glock handgun at the scene, he added.

Gramaglia said the two officers were not required to activate their video cameras beforehand, but did immediately upon encountering the suspect at the shooting scene. He praised the effectiveness of police video cameras, and said while he has not yet personally reviewed recordings of the Friday incident, he is confident the officers who fired their weapons were justified.

"I feel absolutely confident the officers acted with professionalism and within the confines of the law," he said.

The suspect was released from state prison last October after serving time for illegal possession of a handgun, the commissioner said.

More charges are expected, he said, noting body camera video will be released within the next few days.

The officers remain on routine administrative leave as the case is investigated, he added.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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