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Suicide victim in Orchard Park stadium parking lot was off-duty Orleans County sheriff’s deputy

A man whose suicide by gunfire stunned Buffalo Bills fans camping outside Ralph Wilson Stadium over the weekend was identified Monday as an off-duty Orleans County sheriff’s deputy.

Erin N. Fuller, a 16-year police veteran who had previously served in the Marines, fatally shot himself in a camper parking lot across Abbott Road from the stadium in Orchard Park, Sheriff Scott D. Hess confirmed in a statement Monday.

Fuller, 46, was a Marine Patrol diver and had taken part in several water rescues. He also lectured youngsters on water safety.

According to an obituary published on the community news website, Fuller also was president of the 23-member Orleans County Deputy Sheriffs Association, the union representing deputies in the county.

“Deputy Fuller died tragically while off-duty on Saturday … and his death was investigated by the Town of Orchard Park Police. The Sheriff’s Office was in close contact with the Orchard Park PD throughout that investigation and foul play has been ruled out,” Hess said. “The sworn and civilian staff of the Sheriff’s Office is coping with this event and grief counseling is going to be made available to all. We respectfully request that the media show consideration to Deputy Fuller’s family by allowing them their privacy during this most difficult time.”

Bills fans who were in the parking lot when the shooting occurred late Saturday night told The Buffalo News that some tailgaters were dancing to a disc jockey’s music when one of them abruptly shot himself around 10:20 p.m.

Fuller was with friends at the weekend tailgate party when he killed himself, authorities said.

Orchard Park police held a brief news conference early Sunday morning to let people know that the shooting was self-inflicted.

“We honestly don’t know” what caused Fuller to take his own life, said town Police Chief Mark F. Pacholec, who described the incident as a disturbing tragedy.

Fuller was a 1998 graduate of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy at Niagara County Community College. In November 2001, Fuller worked with another police diver, James Halstead, to rescue a Lake Ontario diver who had become pinned against an underwater intake grate at the Orin Hydro plant in Carlton. Police reported that Fuller and Halstead worked with another private diver for two hours, in 46-degree weather, to free the injured man.

Last August, Fuller and another police diver, James Burke, rescued a 38-year-old swimmer who was struggling in Lake Ontario near Carlton.

The Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting toxicology tests.