A Town of Tonawanda man shot to death Thursday after lunging at two police officers with a knife called 911 because he wanted police to take him to the hospital to prevent him from harming himself, a neighbor said Friday.
Rick DiSalvo, who lives next door to Peter Kinnin and his fiancee, Laverne "Brandy" Fallon, on Chelsea Street, said a distraught Ms. Fallon told him Kinnin "just wanted help."
"He wanted the police to take him to the hospital," DiSalvo said.
"She did say he lunged at (the officers) and that he had a knife," he added.
"But as time progressed, she got angry. She said, 'I can't believe they shot him. Couldn't they just grab him? Why did they have to shoot him?' "
The incident began at 8 p.m. Thursday when Kinnin, 32, apparently intoxicated, called 911 and reported that he was going to harm himself, according to police. He said he would let his fiancee leave the house unharmed.
When police arrived, they found Ms. Fallon outside, and she let them inside 297 Chelsea with her key. Police said they were attempting to locate Kinnin when he lunged at them with a large kitchen knife. He refused several requests to stop and drop his weapon, police said.
The officers, Lt. Jerome C. Uschold and Officer Daniel L. Walbesser, fired when they were unable to retreat from Kinnin, who slashed one of the officers three times in his bullet proof vest, hand and gun belt.
Paramedics took Kinnin to Erie County Medical Center, where he died at about 9 p.m.
Police refused to release information on how many shots were fired or how many hit the victim pending an autopsy.
Meanwhile, the district attorney's office began a preliminary investigation. Deputy District Attorney John DeFranks said he is collecting information from the Police Department.
DiSalvo said he heard three shots and ran outside to investigate just as Ms. Fallon ran from her home, screaming that Kinnin had been shot.
"She was in my arms. I was trying to comfort her," he said. "She said, 'They got him twice in the chest and once in the back.' She said he spun around (after one of the shots), and he was looking right at her, and then he went limp and he fell."
He said Ms. Fallon told him that she had wanted to talk to Kinnin (before the shooting started) but that police wouldn't allow it "because they were afraid of a hostage situation."
DiSalvo said he had last seen Kinnin at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday during a brief chat.
"He seemed kind of down," he said, though not intoxicated. "His hands were in his pockets, and his mouth was turned down a little bit. Looking back on it, I wish I had talked to him a little bit more. But we really didn't know each other that well."