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Deputy shoots, kills Springville man after knife attack

An Erie County sheriff's deputy fatally shot a Springville man Sunday afternoon after the man, armed with a hunting knife, repeatedly lunged at the deputy and his partner, according to Sheriff Timothy B. Howard.

The shooting by a new Sheriff's Office member marks the first time in 20 years that a deputy has shot someone, Howard said.

Deputies James Mirusso and Benjamin Pisa were investigating a complaint from a resident of an apartment complex on North Buffalo Street who reported that another resident, Roger S. Duchnik, was threatening people. The person making the complaint described Duchnik, 52, as mentally ill and off his medication.

The deputies tracked Duchnik to his mother's home on Springville-Boston Road in Concord, where they encountered him at the bottom of a steep driveway, Howard said. They followed Duchnik as he ran up the driveway and ordered him to take his hands out of his pockets.

Duchnik turned back toward the deputies and reportedly said, "I haven't killed anyone yet, and you're not going to stop me."

"We don't know exactly what he meant by that, but it was obvious to the officers that he intended physical harm," Howard said.

Duchnik pulled out a knife about 8 inches long and began lunging at the deputies, the sheriff said. Mirusso, 52, backed up and fell down a 15-foot embankment after Duchnik swiped near his midsection.

Believing his partner had been cut and fearing for his own life, Pisa, 24, fired at least three rounds from his handgun, killing Duchnik, Howard said. He called the shooting self-defense.

Pisa, a recent Police Academy graduate, has been with the Sheriff's Office for six months.

He had served a tour of duty in Iraq as an Army infantryman, Howard said.

Pisa faces no disciplinary action, though Internal Affairs is investigating, Howard said.

He went home to his family and is expected to return to duty in two days, according to his normal schedule. No one witnessed the shooting.

"I'm confident this officer performed exactly in the manner a 20-year veteran would," Howard said.

Mirusso injured his left shoulder during his fall. He was released after treatment in Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville.

Sheriff's Office veterans said they could not remember the last time a deputy killed a person in the line of duty, although they estimated it has been more than 30 years.

Howard noted that his deputies had investigated two previous complaints about Duchnik, although neither encounter was violent.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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