NY officer wounded as gunman ambushes police 'with guns blazing'

The suspect ran down from his apartment while shooting at police, then continued firing during a vehicle pursuit


Maki Becker
The Buffalo News

TONAWANDA, N.Y. — At about 3:30 a.m., some two hours after a drive-by shooting on a quiet, residential street in the City of Tonawanda, police working the crime scene noticed a man on the other side of the street.

"Whatcha doin'?" a police officer asked him.

Police recover an AR-15 while searching the crime scenes where a police officer was shot along with another person in a span of two hours. (Photo/TNS)
Police recover an AR-15 while searching the crime scenes where a police officer was shot along with another person in a span of two hours. (Photo/TNS)

The man muttered something about needing to go upstairs to get something or check on a dog, said Police Capt. Fred Foels.

After the man went upstairs to his upper-floor apartment, he then came running down the stairs, firing repeatedly at the police outside with a high-powered rifle, Foels said.

"He came down the stairs with guns blazing," Foels said.

A veteran detective was shot multiple times in the barrage of gunfire.

Other officers ducked for cover as bullets shattered windows and pierced car doors and walls.

The gunman then jumped into his car and exchanged gunfire with two police officers who chased him in their vehicles, police said.

About three blocks away, the gunman threw a rifle out of the window, police said. Then, a police lieutenant following behind in an unmarked SUV rammed the fleeing man's car from behind.

The car stopped, the lieutenant – his wrist broken from the impact of the crash – and the second police officer took the man into custody. His name has not been released.

Detective David Ljiljanich, who has served 17 years with the City of Tonawanda Police Department, survived the shooting, taking two bullets to his bulletproof vest and more to his hip and groin. He was being treated at Erie County Medical Center.

The victim in the drive-by shooting was believed to be in critical condition at ECMC.

The gunman, who is also the suspect in the drive-by, was being questioned.

"We've had some dealings with him. Not real frequent, but we've dealt with him," Foels said.

Investigators are trying to piece together what led to the series of violent events.

"We were focused on working on a crime scene," Foels told reporters.

"We didn't think that the shooter would somehow tiptoe back and take pot shots at us. Normally, that doesn't happen," said Foels.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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