Eighteen-year-old Andre Fuller pleaded “not guilty” Wednesday morning to charges that he tried to murder a Buffalo Police officer who pursued him after spotting a robbery in progress last June.
However, prosecutor Ashley Morgan said during Fuller’s arraignment that the District Attorney’s Office had copies of a statement Fuller made saying “he wished he’d killed the officers.”
Instead, thanks to the safety lock on Fuller’s .45 caliber handgun, Officer Anthony Fanara went home safely that night. Fuller allegedly had the gun jammed into Fanara’s chest and pulled the trigger twice when the officer tackled him during a chase near Schiller Park.
Fuller is now charged with attempted murder of a police officer, attempted robbery and criminal possession of a weapon. He could face life in prison if convicted.
The confrontation began at about 11:15 p.m. June 15 at Doat Street and Stewart Avenue when Strike Force officers spotted a robbery in progress. Fanara and Officers Joseph Acquino and Bradford Pitts began a foot chase, with Fanara in the lead. They could see a gun in the suspect’s right hand.
Fanara tackled Fuller in the backyard of the suspect’s home at 92 Stewart, and when the gun failed to fire, the other officers were able to knock it out of Fuller’s hand. Fanara was wearing a protective vest.
Fuller was arrested and the weapon was recovered.
Wednesday, Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk ordered Fuller held without bail following his arraignment.
Meeting with the press after court, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda praised the work of his officers and was clearly relieved at the outcome.
“It was a hand to hand, life and death struggle,” Derenda said. “All too often we hear about the negatives. We are just glad to see the officers were unhurt.”
Derenda also expressed a continuing concern of his – that the violent criminals who are arrested with weapons continue to make bail and get back out on the streets within days or weeks.
“We have recovered more than 500 guns so far this year,” Derenda said. ”That’s way up. But so are shootings. It is a very dangerous climate for our officers right now.”