By Carolyn Thompson
BUFFALO, N.Y. — An officer was justified in shooting a woman who charged at police with knives after fatally stabbing her four-year-old grandson, Buffalo's police commissioner said Thursday.
Charlene Fears was covered in blood and had a butcher knife in each hand when she came at two officers and refused their repeated orders to drop the weapons, Commissioner Daniel Derenda told reporters Thursday, a day after the shooting inside a Buffalo home.
"It became a life or death situation for the officers," he said, citing the initial investigation.
But police said little about what happened before the shooting that led Fears to apparently stab grandson Roderick Geiger III more than once. It was likely the child's blood on her when she was shot, Derenda said. The four-year-old died later at a hospital.
"This is a tragedy for all involved," the commissioner said, adding the investigation is ongoing.
He declined to comment on media reports that the 38-year-old Fears had a history of mental illness.
Neighbors told The Buffalo News they were first alerted to the stabbing when Fears' daughter, the boy's mother, began screaming, "Somebody killed my baby" and administering CPR.
Meanwhile, relatives of the slain boy's father, Roderick Geiger Jr., said Thursday that they hadn't heard from him since the stabbing and worried about his safety.
"We don't have any idea where he is," Timothy Geiger, Geiger Jr.'s grandfather and the slain child's great-grandfather, told The Associated Press. "We're hoping and praying he'll surface soon. He was crazy about that little baby. It was his life."
Timothy Geiger said his grandson was hospitalized late last year after being hit in the head with a hammer and left for dead by a group of attackers. After leaving the hospital, Geiger said, his grandson ignored doctors' orders to go straight home and instead went to his son. "He wasn't in shape to go nowhere," Geiger said. "He went to see his baby."
Derenda said city surveillance cameras caught some of what unfolded in the Riverside neighborhood late Wednesday afternoon, but he declined to elaborate.
Officer Robert Yeates, who had been on the force for more than 20 years, and Officer John Mulderig, who graduated from the police academy last week, were flagged down as they drove by on routine patrol and were alerted to the wounded child, he said. They were calling for an ambulance when Fears approached.
"I believe they were in fear for their lives," Derenda said.
Fears' relatives couldn't be reached for comment.
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