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Driver tries to kill deputy with knife before taking gun, fleeing

A driver being arrested after a traffic accident early Sunday morning wrestled a Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputy to the ground, tried to kill the deputy with a knife then took the deputy’s gun and ran from the scene before being tracked down about four hours later, according to Undersheriff Charles J. Holder.

The deputy, who fired the gun during the struggle but did not hit the attacker, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated and released from a local hospital

The incident began around 3:35 a.m. when the deputy, who was not identified, responded to a property damage traffic accident on Route 60 in the Town of Pomfret. During the investigation, the deputy believed driver Justin S. Haffa, 21, of Cheektowaga, was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and attempted to arrest him.

That’s when Haffa attacked and pinned the deputy to the ground and tried to kill the deputy with a knife, Holder said in a written release. In an attempt at self-preservation, the deputy fired at least one shot before Haffa was able to wrestle the pistol from the deputy and ran from the scene, heading south on Route 60.

Law enforcement from several agencies were dispatched and a manhunt ensued. A reverse 911 call and New York Alert were issued to local residents for their safety. An Erie County Sheriff’s Office also helicopter was deployed to the search area.

At about 7:30 a.m. Haffa was caught on Putnam Road in the Town of Stockton. He still had the deputy’s pistol when he was apprehended.

Haffa was charged with attempted murder and assault and also faces numerous other charges as the investigation continues, Holder said.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Chautauqua County SWAT, the New York State Police, the Fredonia Police Department, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Cassadaga and Fredonia fire departments and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office AIR-1.

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