Two teenage boys attempted to rob a Vulcan Street credit union at gunpoint Tuesday morning, but ran out empty-handed when a retired Buffalo police officer, working as a security guard, fired three shots at them.
The robbers apparently were not struck by any of the bullets.
The shooting happened inside the Riverside Credit Union, 245 Vulcan St., in the presence of a few employees and at least two customers.
Buffalo police officials said they believe the guard's use of his weapon was justified because people's lives were in imminent danger.
"The security guard was protecting his life and the lives of everyone in the credit union before the situation escalated," said Chief Arturo Salas, who oversees the city's Northwest District.
"Whenever someone points a deadly weapon at you, you have the right to defend yourself -- especially when it's in the commission of a felony."
Just after 11 a.m., two robbers, described as 14 to 17 years old, entered the credit union, armed with a black handgun, according to Northwest District police.
One of the robbers ordered the security guard to his knees and told him not to move, police said.
When one of the robbers approached the counter, the security guard fired three shots at the robbers, police reported.
"When the security guard was going down on his knees, he took advantage of the opportunity and fired," Salas said.
"He was acting upon the fundamental right of every citizen to protect themselves -- especially from someone who is willing and able to use deadly force against them." The robbers ran through several yards on Argus Street. Officers said they recovered a black .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun at the crime scene.
Investigators are trying to determine if these two young men are connected to two other recent gunpoint robberies at the credit union.
Two males robbed the credit union at gunpoint just before 1:15 p.m. on March 1. Police said one held the customers at bay with a gun, while the other jumped over the counter and began putting money into a clear plastic bag. The robbers fled south on Argus Street with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Shortly before 4 p.m. on Jan. 24, two armed males entered the building and made off with an unknown amount of money. The robbers fled west on Vulcan toward Ullman Street.