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OFFICER INJURED IN TACKLING 300-POUND MAN GOES OFF DUTY

The Flex Unit police officer who tackled a fleeing suspect who weighs more than 300 pounds in Forest Lawn following a high-speed chase Monday night has been placed off duty with a serious hand injury, Buffalo police report.

Officer Steve E. Sierk is expected to miss "at least a few days" of work if X-rays show that he only sprained his hand, according to Lt. Albert J. Liberatore of the Ferry-Fillmore District.

Sierk chased down and tackled Gordon G. Hollingsworth, 24, of Rickert Street. Hollingsworth was arrested after a struggle, authorities said.

Sierk noticed afterward that a bone protruded from his right hand. He also suffered a knee injury. He was treated in Erie County Medical Center, Liberatore said.

Meanwhile, police said that they will present Hollingsworth's file to the U.S. attorney's office for a possible felony charge under the Project Exile program. Hollings-worth was out on probation and had two weapons in the vehicle, police said.

Under Project Exile, prior felons can be prosecuted in federal court and sentenced to lengthy prison terms several states away for possession of an illegal firearm.

Police believe that may have been the reason Hollingsworth was trying not to be caught. He led police on a chase that began at about 9 p.m. with gunshots on the East Side and ended with his van crashing through an iron fence at Forest Lawn, authorities said.

Six bullets struck the van's windshield without striking either Hollingsworth or his alleged accomplice, Dexter W. Moss, 18, of Ada Place, police said.

Hollingsworth, whose brother was killed in a shooting on the East Side in March, told police he was carrying weapons to protect himself.

Both suspects face felony charges. They allegedly tried to outrun police and dispose of a firearm on the Scajaquada Expressway. They then allegedly struck two vehicles, including a police cruiser, on Niagara Street before crashing into the cemetery and attempting to flee on foot. Both were caught in minutes.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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