By Rick Pfeiffer firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — Falls police say one of their own was the target of gunfire early Saturday morning and they are hunting for a suspect.
The trouble started at about 3 a.m., when officers responded to 911 calls of shots being fired between a red car and green van. As officers begin a search for the vehicles, they received a call of an accident at Ninth Street and Ferry Avenue involving a green van.
Officers at the crash scene quickly discovered a gunshot hole on the passenger side of the van. Two passengers in the vehicle told police they had been involved in an incident with a Dodge Charger.
Minutes later, two patrol officers spotted an orange Charger in the 600 block of 15th Street. When they attempted to stop the car, the passenger jumped out and began running.
A veteran Falls officer began to run after the passenger.
“As the officer was chasing the suspect, he stopped and held up what appeared to be a rifle with both of his hands on it,” Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said. “He then fired a shot at the officer and the officer returned fire, firing one shot.”
Neither the officer nor the suspect were hit. After the gunfire, the officer lost sight of the suspect, who is described as “a black male, about 6 feet tall.”
While the passenger from the Charger was being chased, police were able to finally stop the car at 15th Street and Ferry Avenue. Officers took the driver into custody.
Rashaun M. Dix, 439 26th St., Apt. 1, was charged with unlawfully fleeing from police and several vehicle and traffic law violations.
The Niagara County Sheriffs Office K-9 Unit and the New York State Parks Police assisted in the search for the gunman.
Investigators said neither Dix nor the occupants of the van were cooperative in explaining what triggered the exchange of gunfire between them. The explanations were described as “sketchy.”
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative duty, pending an investigation by the department’s Office of Professional Standards. That investigation was characterized as “routine.”
“We don’t anticipate any charges,” DalPorto said. “The force that was used by the officer appears to be entirely justified.”
Mayor Paul Dyster, in a statement released Saturday afternoon, expressed appreciation for the officer’s efforts.
“Protecting the public safety is inherently dangerous work,” the mayor said. “Memories of an incident several years ago where two of our officers were seriously wounded on South Avenue are still very fresh in my mind. I am relieved that none of our officers was injured. I want to assure everyone who wears the uniform for the City of Niagara Falls that my administration stands behind every one of them as they go about their dangerous duties every day, putting themselves in harm’s way for our sake. I thank them for their courage and dedication to duty.”
Dyster also pledged to continue a “war against gun violence on our streets.”