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SHOOTING OF POLICE STIRS CONCERN

The news that three Rochester police officers were shot and wounded responding to a domestic dispute late Saturday was disturbing, but not surprising to at least one local law enforcement official.

"Domestic calls have been and continue to be one of the most dangerous situations a police officer can walk in on," Buffalo Police Inspector James J. Degenhart said Sunday night.

"It's a situation where tempers are at an extreme high . . . and rage takes over," he said. "The last thing some of these people want to see is a police officer."

The three officers were wounded by a 22-year-old man who barricaded himself inside a third-floor apartment with two young boys, authorities said.

Two of the officers remained in the hospital Sunday after undergoing surgery. A third officer was treated and released. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, police said.

Paul Robinson was charged with three counts of first-degree attempted murder in connection with the shooting, authorities said.

Police arrived at Robinson's residence just before 11 p.m. Saturday and found his wife, 29-year-old Margarita, outside the building in night clothes. She said her husband had beaten and threatened to kill her and that she feared for the safety of her two young sons, who were still inside the apartment with him, police said.

The officers tried unsuccessfully to enter the apartment and were prying open the door when Robinson opened fire with a 9mm Glock pistol, Officer Carlos Garcia said. The officers returned fire as the door swung open and were able to take Robinson into custody, Garcia said.

The boys, ages 6 and 7, were uninjured in the exchange of gunfire.

Police Sunday were investigating how many shots had been fired.

"It was just a horrendous scene," Garcia said.

Officer Mark DiBelka, 27, was in guarded condition in Rochester General Hospital Sunday after being shot in the neck and chest. Officer Michael Kozak, 33, was in satisfactory condition with a gunshot wound in the right arm. Officer Thomas Difante was treated and released after being grazed by a bullet. All three were wearing bulletproof vests at the time of the shooting.

DiBelka's vest "clearly saved his life," said Deputy Police Chief Robert J. Duffy.

Degenhart said Buffalo police officers are trained to wear their bullet-proof vests in such circumstances, to take extreme caution and to call for back up if necessary.

Duffy said: "Domestic disputes are often the most dangerous to respond to, and this one turned out to be no different."

Robinson received a cut on his chin, but authorities said they do not believe he was hit by a bullet. He was treated at Strong Memorial Hospital and released to police. He is being held at Monroe County Jail without bail.

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