‘Multiple officers hit!’ Bullets fly in Buffalo police chase

Carolyn Thompson
Associated Press

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.

Police gather at the scene of a shooting where three policeman were shot at East Ferry and Filmore Avenue in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, March 29, 2022.

Minutes later comes another urgent voice: “They’re still shooting. Multiple officers hit!”

By the end of the car chase that wound through city streets, nine police vehicles had been damaged, officials said at a news conference Wednesday.

Officer Trevor Sheehan was shot in the left bicep and ear, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said, while officer Christopher Wilson was shot in his bulletproof vest and Officer Joseph McCarthy was shot in the abdomen.

Only McCarthy remained in the hospital on Wednesday, Gramaglia said. All three officers were expected to recover fully, he said.

A Buffalo police vehicle blocks the area where three police officers were shot, Tuesday. March 29, 2022, in Buffalo, New York.

“It’s a miracle that nobody died,” Gramaglia said.

Kente Bell, 28, was arrested on charges including three counts of attempted murder of a police officer, officials said.

Police said Bell was on probation for an illegal firearms charge in the town of Amherst in 2020.

Bell, who survived being shot in 2012, was shot again during Tuesday night’s wild chase and was still hospitalized Wednesday, officials said. It wasn’t clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

No bystanders were hit by the flying bullets, which authorities said was remarkably lucky.

Gramaglia said the chase began around 6 p.m. when Bell, 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.

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Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Deepti Hajela contributed from New York City.