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Initial reports suggest University District double shooting was self-defense

A 50-year-old University District resident and his two sons were washing a family car in his driveway Sunday evening when all hell broke loose.

One of two armed robbers approached the trio, put a gun to the neck of one of the sons, chased him into a yard where he took a necklace and cash from him, then fired a shot.

That’s when John R. Hunt Sr. went back into his Minnesota Avenue home to retrieve his 9 mm handgun.

After Hunt returned to the scene, both suspects pointed their guns at him.

So he fired at them, striking one of the robbers in the chest, the other in the left thigh.

That’s the scenario, culled from initial police reports, in the double shooting that left two young men charged with first-degree robbery and one of them hospitalized in serious condition Monday with a gunshot wound to the chest.

The Buffalo police narrative of the double shooting sounds like a textbook example of self-defense, with the preliminary police report stating that one of the suspected thieves “put a gun to the neck” of one of the sons and later fired a shot at him. Then, when the father returned with his own gun, the two suspects pointed their guns at him, according to that report.

So will the double shooting go to an Erie County grand jury to see whether the homeowner could face charges?

“Cases like this will often go to a grand jury,” District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said Monday. “But the decisions we make as prosecutors are based on all of the evidence, and we clearly don’t have all of the evidence yet.”

Sedita, without commenting on this case, cited the basic standard for the permissible use of deadly physical force in a case of self-defense.

“If a person reasonably believes that deadly physical force, or the threat of deadly physical force, is about to be used on them or another person in their presence, then you may use deadly physical force to defend yourself or the other person,” the district attorney said.

It’s also permissible to use deadly physical force to thwart specific felony crimes, including armed robbery, burglary and rape, Sedita added.

A key issue in such cases is whether the person defending himself is using a licensed weapon. Police say it appears that Hunt has a permit for his gun.

“It’s perfectly lawful, perfectly justified, to possess a gun, if you have a license for it, and use that gun in defense of yourself or your loved ones,” Sedita said.

Police say the incident began at 7:10 p.m. Sunday, while Hunt and his two sons were washing the vehicle on Minnesota, just west of Eggert Road.

Two young men approached the trio. One of the suspected robbers put a gun to the neck of Marcus Hunt and stated, “You know what time it is,” according to police reports.

Marcus Hunt ran into a nearby yard, where the same suspect followed him and took a white-gold link necklace valued at thousands of dollars, along with $800 in cash. That suspect then fired a shot at the young man, the preliminary report states.

That’s when the elder Hunt went inside and got his handgun, leading to the double shooting, police said.

The suspect shot in the chest, identified as Bernard Byrd III, 21 of Buffalo, fled through nearby yards and was found in a backyard on Lasalle Avenue, one block south of Minnesota. Byrd remained in serious condition Monday in ECMC’s Intensive Care Unit.

The other wounded man, Robert Moore, 19, fled west on Minnesota.

Following the double shooting, Northeast District police arrested both fleeing suspects and, with the help of K-9 dog Herc, recovered the stolen necklace and cash. Officers still are trying to find the two weapons used in the robbery.

Investigators said Byrd and Moore, now facing charges of first-degree robbery, are well-known to police from a number of previous incidents.