Five people led police from seven agencies on a lengthy chase by car and foot Sunday morning that began with a shooting on the city's West Side and ended 30 minutes later in Orchard Park with three people under arrest and two others on the lam.
As many as 50 police patrol vehicles, a K-9 unit and the Erie County Sheriff's Office Air One helicopter responded to the scene, but two of the vehicle's passengers successfully eluded capture in the area of the Quaker Crossing shopping center.
The police chase ended only after Orchard Park police used a tire deflation device to bring the suspects' vehicle to a halt on Milestrip Road, Orchard Park Police Lt. Joseph Buccilli told The Buffalo News.
"This is the first time we were ever actually able to deploy them," Buccilli said.
The multi-agency chase began at about 2 a.m. when someone fired off several shots from a vehicle near West Ferry Street and West Avenue, according to Buffalo police.
No one was reported injured, but an officer happened to be in the area and attempted to pull the vehicle over, said Michael J. DeGeorge, a Buffalo police spokesman.
The vehicle took off instead, with police in pursuit through the city and onto the Niagara Thruway and Route 5 as it passed through Lackawanna, Blasdell and Hamburg, Buffalo and Orchard Park police said.
Orchard Park police received an electronic alert at about 2:10 a.m. When they learned the vehicle in question was traveling eastbound on Milestrip Road, they attempted to stop it just west of Abbott Road in Hamburg, Buccilli said.
Lt. Joseph Wehrfritz and Officer Brian Gehring positioned their patrol vehicles to funnel the suspects' vehicle toward an expandable "stop stick" thrown by Gehring.
The stop sticks hold Teflon-coated quills that catch on the vehicle's tires and gradually release air from them, according to the manufacturer's website.
The suspects' vehicle drove over Gehring's stop stick and continued several hundred feet before coming to a stop near Amelia Drive, just west of the Southern Tier Expressway interchange, with both passenger-side tires deflated, Buccilli said.
"It came to a safe stop," he said, with Buffalo police putting the time at 2:30 a.m.
Three people stayed in the vehicle as officers approached, but a man and a woman jumped out and ran south toward the area between California and South Benzing roads, the lieutenant said.
He said a supervisor on the scene told him as many as 50 police vehicles from Buffalo, the state police, Blasdell, Hamburg, Lackawanna and Orchard Park responded to the scene, as well as the Lackawanna K-9 unit and the sheriff's helicopter.
"There was a fairly large perimeter that was set up," and an extensive search conducted, but the two suspects managed to escape, Buccilli said.
A short time later, a motorist reported seeing two people trying to cross the Southern Tier Expressway, and it's possible those were the man and woman who fled the stalled vehicle, he said.
Orchard Park police have no reason to believe the pair still is in town. Buccilli said it's likely they used a cell phone to arrange a ride back to Buffalo.
"I highly doubt they're in the [Orchard Park] area," he said.
The 19-year-old driver and two 17-year-old passengers who remained in the vehicle face numerous charges, including reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a loaded firearm, fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle and reckless driving, DeGeorge said.