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MOURNERS PROTEST POLICE CHASE DURING SERVICES AT FUNERAL HOME

A Buffalo police chase that interrupted funeral home services for a murder victim led to a protest by 50 people outside Police Headquarters on Wednesday night.

Police responding to a report of shots fired shortly before 7 p.m. near Dodge Street and Wohlers Avenue ended up chasing a man they spotted at Sycamore and Oberlin streets, after the man pulled out a gun and dropped a quantity of crack cocaine and marijuana, police said.

Officers Jose Colon and Richard Lopez followed the man into Providence Funeral Home, 1275 Sycamore St., where family members and friends were mourning the death of Carl M. Smith, the 17-year-old Bennett High School junior who was fatally shot Friday in an abandoned house at 648 E. Utica St.

There, a cousin of Smith's, Paul E. Early, 17, of Detroit Street, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and harassment at about 7:40 p.m., after threatening officers, police said.

According to police reports, Early said: ". . . Police can die just as easily as anybody else. . .I. My man's in there dead and you . . . can be in there just as easily -- dead like him."

Police also said Early made physical contact with Ferry-Fillmore District Officer Ralph Skinner and also threatened him.

Meanwhile, the subject of the chase never was captured. Police believe he hid, then left the funeral home through a rear entrance.

After Early's arrest, more than 50 people who attended the wake held a protest outside Buffalo Police Headquarters.

Early was released on appearance tickets.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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