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OFFICER WOUNDED, GUNMAN KILLED IN FALLS SHOOTOUT
SHOTS FIRED AFTER POLICE RESPOND TO REPORT OF A HOME INVASION

A burglary suspect was killed and a Niagara Falls police officer wounded late Monday night in an exchange of gunfire between police and three masked individuals leaving the scene of a reported home invasion.

Officer Charles Fink, a nine-year veteran of the force, was shot in the left shoulder during the incident on Pierce Avenue. He was treated and released from Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

The other officer, Robert Gee, returned fire, fatally hitting one of the burglary suspects, police said. The dead man has not been identified, and the other two suspects remained at large this morning.

The incident began at 10:32 p.m., when police responded to a report of a burglary in progress in a home at 2234 Pierce Ave. When Fink and Gee arrived, they confronted the three people in masks who were leaving the house.

One of the three fired two shotgun rounds at the officers, striking Fink, before Gee shot back, police said. Gee, a 34-year veteran and former chief firearms instructor for the department, was not injured.

Ambulance personnel from Rural/Metro Medical Services responded to the scene.

Detectives are still investigating the shootings. Anyone with any information is asked to call the department's Criminal Investigation Division at 286-4553.

The last time a Niagara County police officer was shot in the line of duty was on Feb. 9, 2003, when Capt. Lawrence Eggert and Officer Steven Ritchie of the Lockport Police Department were seriously injured during a shootout at a Lockport mobile home park involving Jason Kanalley, 26, who then killed himself.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com and gnorheim@buffnews.com

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