'A very dangerous situation': 3 Buffalo officers shot during pursuit
An attempted traffic stop led to a barrage of gunfire
By Carolyn Thompson
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Police radio transmissions captured some of the chaos on the streets of Buffalo on Tuesday evening during a wild car chase in which three officers and the fleeing motorist were shot.
“I’m hit! I’m hit!” a voice believed to be that of an officer is heard saying as sirens wailed in the background.
Minutes later comes another urgent voice: “They’re still shooting. Multiple officers hit!"
Only one of the three officers struck by gunfire remained hospitalized Wednesday as investigators reconstructed the pursuit, which wound through city streets for more than 20 minutes with the gunman firing at officers from the moving vehicle.
The driver of the car also was in the hospital after being shot and wounded by police at an intersection in front of a police station, where the chase ended.
No bystanders were hit by the flying bullets, which authorities said was remarkably lucky.
Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the chase began around 6 p.m. when a motorist who had been pulled over in traffic suddenly drove off. As police pursued, the vehicle slowed to let someone out. After the passenger exited, gunfire started coming from the car.
On radio transmissions, captured by Broadcastify.com, the pursuing officers called in the position of the vehicle and shouted out warnings.
“Currently shooting at officers again ... shooting at officers,” a dispatcher is heard saying.
One officer was hit in the arm. Another, in a different car, was wounded badly enough to require surgery. A third pursuing officer in another vehicle was shot but was saved from serious injury by a bulletproof vest.
At one point, dispatchers can be heard on the radio repeatedly telling officers to “cut the pursuit!” But the chase either continued or resumed.
A video posted on social media by one bystander showed the end of the chase: Officers took defensive positions with weapons drawn and sent multiple volleys of shots at either a vehicle or a person who couldn’t be seen on camera.
Leslie Thomas, 64, who lives in an apartment overlooking the scene, was watching the news when she heard what turned out to be gunfire.
“I heard about 10 shots. I said ‘What’s going on?’ It didn’t dawn on me that it was shots but it kept repeating and repeating so I ran to my window,” she said. She saw numerous police cars, lights flashing and watched four police officers pull a man from a vehicle and handcuff him. He appeared to fall to the street where several other officers surrounded him.
Two of the officers were treated and released from Erie County Medical Center, police spokesperson Michael DeGeorge said Wednesday.
“This was a very brazen situation with a suspect shooting from a vehicle at police officers ... a very, very dangerous situation,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference Tuesday night at the hospital.
In addition to the wounded suspect, one other person was also in custody, authorities said.
Police didn’t name either of the people under arrest or the officers.