A Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Transit Police officer fired his weapon at a fleeing motorist Thursday on Main Street, according to a transit official.
NFTA does not know if anyone was hit by gunshots, said George W. Gast, NFTA chief of police, during a news conference early Thursday evening at NFTA headquarters, 181 Ellicott St.
Gast said the incident occurred about 12:10 p.m. while one of his transit officers was a conducting a routine traffic stop at West Utica and Main streets, where a vehicle was illegally parked in front of a bus stop.
Gast said the driver of the vehicle drove into a nearby Burger King parking lot a short distance away on Main St. when the NFTA officer turned on his flashing lights, signaling the motorist to stop.
Gast said the officer approached the vehicle and a short time later, a backup officer arrived. The motorist proceeded to flee and the backup officer discharged his service revolver.
"It was the backup officer who fired his weapon. From the vantage point of the primary officer-- that's the one who initiated the traffic stop-- it appeared that the fleeing vehicle attempted to strike the backup officer who was standing near the front of the vehicle. At that point, the officer responded by firing one shot through the windshield," Gast said.
The driver continued to flee and crashed a short distance away on Northampton Street, at which point the driver and a passenger both exited the vehicle.
The passenger was detained by NFTA police at the crash scene, while the driver fled south on Main Street and then on to Coe Place. After a short foot chase, Gast said, the driver was apprehended by police and placed under arrest.
Shortly after, several NFTA plainclothes officers were at the scene, a vacant lot surrounded by police tape on Main near Coe Place, at about 1 p.m. The scene is across the street from a Delta Sonic Car Wash.
At Main St and Coe place where an NFTA police officer was reportedly shot at. pic.twitter.com/nbFJDM8uw2
— Maki Becker (@makibecker) February 2, 2017
A witness to the incident Thursday said he saw what looked like a Ford Mustang speeding south on Main Street before it turned left onto Northampton Street and struck a parked car. Then the driver ran south on the sidewalk, chased by what seemed like dozens of police officers.
"There were a lot," said the witness, who did not want to give his name. The suspect turned left on Coe as he fled.
Gast said both the motorist and the backup transit officer received medical attention, though neither was believed to have suffered any life-threatening injuries.
The driver was taken into police custody and was being held at Erie County Medical Center early Thursday evening.
"Our officer is on paid administrative leave, which is a standard policy when an officer discharges his weapon in the line of duty," Gast said.
No charges had yet been filed in the case Thursday.
"We expect charges to be filed against the driver, certainly. It will be determined whether the passenger will be facing any charges," said Gast.
Gast said the last time an NFTA police officer fired his weapon was in 2011.
Here's a map showing the location: