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South Buffalo police shooting had 'all the makings of a suicide by cop'

A 34-year-old man was shot Friday during an encounter with Buffalo Police following a standoff outside a home in South Buffalo at McKinley Parkway and Como Avenue.

Capt. Jeffrey D. Rinaldo of the Buffalo Police said an officer was forced to shoot the man after he didn’t respond to multiple requests from police to drop his 12 gauge shotgun.

The man was rushed to Erie County Medical Center, a police source said Friday night.

Michael J. DeGeorge, a Buffalo Police spokesman, at about 10:30 p.m. Friday said the man was out of surgery and in critical condition.

Jeremy Smith of Buffalo was identified as the man who was shot, according to two separate police sources.

A Police Benevolent Association attorney described the shooting as a likely suicide by cop.

"It is very preliminary in the investigation, but this has all the makings of a suicide by cop," said Thomas H. Burton, a PBA attorney who represents officers in cases involving the use of deadly force.

"The officer involved is a member of the SWAT team," Burton said.

Burton added that a shotgun was recovered from the scene, and it appeared to have been discharged twice inside the residence.

Police confirmed the man lived at the home in the 600 block of the parkway.

Burton, the attorney, declined to comment further because homicide detectives are conducting an investigation.

Police tape was up at the scene of a hostage standoff in South Buffalo on Friday. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

The officer will be put on administrative leave, a standard policy, and was also taken to a hospital to be "checked out," Rinaldo said during a news conference at the scene Friday.

The man was holding his mother hostage while armed with a shotgun, the police source said. A second source familiar with the circumstances of the incident said the man came out of the house holding his mother in one arm and a shotgun in his other arm.

That second source provided the following details on why the police officer discharged his weapon in the encounter: The man pointed the shotgun at the officer, who ordered him to drop the weapon. When he pointed the shotgun a second time at the officer, it was then that the officer fired his weapon at the man. After the first shot was fired, the man remained standing. The officer fired a second time. The man collapsed, and at that point, the officer who fired the shots provided first aid, along with other police officers, the second source said.

A third police source said the incident was captured on video, and homicide detectives were reviewing it. The same police source said the police officer shot the man in the abdomen area.

A jarring video of the incident, which appeared to show the man struggling with a woman and holding a shotgun before being shot, was being widely viewed on Twitter Friday afternoon.

Buffalo Police on Twitter described the incident as an "officer involved shooting at McKinley Parkway & Como Avenue in connection with hostage situation."

A McKinley Parkway neighbor, Kyle Fenske, 31, said he saw a man walk out of the blue house on McKinley Parkway after 3 p.m. with what looked like a shotgun. Fenske said the man’s mother was screaming at him to stop.

"Out of nowhere, he came out of that side door," Fenske said. "(She was) basically trying to get him to not do anything stupid."

The man appeared to try to get into his truck at the house, Fenske said. The neighbor added that he heard gunshots, and police rushed the area. Some shrubs blocked his view of the shooting. He said he later saw the man’s mother walking around.

The third police source said the mother was believed to be unharmed.

"It seemed like she was using herself as a shield," Fenske said of the woman.

Debby Hussey, 56, who lives on Seneca Street, was in the neighborhood Friday, and watched as police investigators walked to and from the shooting scene. Hussey said she was surprised to hear about the shooting.

"That stuff doesn’t normally happen around here," Hussey said. "It freaks you out."

At the news conference, Rinaldo said police received a call at about 2:30 p.m. regarding a "suicidal male."

Rinaldo said police believe there were two shots fired inside the house, and one shot fired outside after the man discharged his shotgun, while struggling over the weapon with the woman.

Multiple police officers responded to the scene, and the area was blocked off by Buffalo Police cruisers as neighbors looked on.


News Staff Reporter Maki Becker contributed to this story.

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