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Buffalo man cheats death when assailant's gun jams Victim shot twice while running away; police collar suspect

A Buffalo man was shot Tuesday near Jefferson Avenue and Lyth Place by a gunman so intent on killing him that he held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, police said.

When the gun failed to fire, the gunman chased after him, and shot him twice.

The victim, Adrian L. Huggins, 40, was being treated Tuesday in Erie County Medical Center for a gunshot wound to his back and another to his hip. Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said his injuries are not considered life threatening.

The accused gunman, Juri Thomas, 27, of Florida Street, was quickly caught by a police officer who found him sitting in a taxicab. He was charged with attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence.

DeGeorge said Huggins was walking about 5:50 a.m. when Thomas confronted him.

After the gun failed to fire, the victim ran, and Thomas chased after him and shot him twice. The wounded victim ran to a friend's home on Donaldson Road.

One of the bullets fired from the gun also pierced the wall of a day care center in the 100 block of Northland Avenue.

A woman and several children were inside the day care facility at the time, but the bullet missed them, and no one was injured, police said.

Northeast District Officer Nathaniel Gainey was at East Ferry Street and Jefferson Avenue when he saw a man acting suspiciously in the back of a taxi cab.

Gainey stopped the cab and witnessed Huggins place a small plastic bag inside his mouth and try to swallow it, police said.

Gainey and Officer John Sanders arrested him at the scene, assisted by Lt. Randall Ammerman and Officer Tara Wells-O'Neill. The officers also recovered the small plastic bag, containing more than 500 milligrams of crack cocaine, along with a loaded handgun.

Records show that Thomas has a felony conviction for robbery and three drug convictions in City Court.

A little more than five months ago, Huggins was the one being arrested.

On Jan. 26, Huggins and a woman were charged with abducting a woman from her East Side home at gunpoint, subjecting her to rape, beating her repeatedly and demanding $250 from her boyfriend for her safe return.

At the time, Huggins, of Sumner Place, and Elizabeth M. Rivera, 31, of Monticello Place, were charged with kidnapping, assault and harassment.

Huggins also faced charges of rape, criminal sexual act, criminal use of a firearm and menacing. The woman was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where she was treated for pain, swelling and cuts on her face, head and back.

The disposition of that case was not immediately clear Tuesday.

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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