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Trial of accused Dollar General shooter delayed after mental health evaluation

The trial of the man accused of perpetrating a would-be mass shooting in Cheektowaga last year has been delayed, as doctors have found him mentally unable to assist in his own defense.

Travis J. Green was slated to go on trial next week on various charges, including attempted murder, for the shooting that happened Nov. 14, 2017, at the Dollar General store near Union and French roads.

Green will be transferred from the Erie County Holding Center to a psychiatric facility after being found incompetent to proceed, said defense attorney Paul Dell.

The move is not a permanent end to the criminal case; Green may be transferred back to proceed with the trial if his status changes, Dell said.

Last year's incident had all the makings of a mass shooting – Green had two high-powered AR-15 rifles, a ballistic vest and more than 850 rounds of ammunition, according to authorities. He sprayed the building and fired shots into the air, discharging 20 rounds. Only one person was injured.

Afterward, the police chief called it "a miracle" that he wasn't reading a long list of the names of the dead. Three customers and several store employees were inside at the time.

Green went into the store on Gardenville Parkway West at about 2:30 p.m., requested a job application and became irate, according to prosecutors, before coming back outside and opening fire. Two men from a neighboring business – later hailed as heroes by police – intervened during a break in the gunfire, and Green was taken into custody by police after a brief foot chase.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Green also faces charges of attempted assault, reckless endangerment and weapons possession.

A trial had been scheduled to start Nov. 27 in front of Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio.

Dell sought a court-ordered evaluation for Green because of difficulties he had communicating with his client, he said. Two doctors found Green incompetent to proceed, and both the judge and prosecutors consented to having Green transferred for treatment, Dell said.

John Schaefer. (John Hickey/News file photo)

The one person injured during the incident was John Schaefer of Cheektowaga, a customer at the store who stood face to face with Green in the parking lot before and after the gunfire. Schaefer suffered cuts to his face from shattered glass and had two bullet fragments lodged in his arm and shoulder. Green punched Schaefer twice in the parking lot before the shooting and afterward pointed a rifle at his torso, according to Schaefer's account.

"I'm lucky I didn't get blown away," Schaefer said, recounting his story to The Buffalo News in June.

Green made a video prior to the shooting and posted it online, showing him wearing face paint and holding two guns while audio from the film "The Purge" plays in the background.

Viola Green, Travis Green's mother, previously told The News that she believes her son had been going through a lot of stress leading up to the shooting, including a separation from his wife and being fired from a construction job.

"I just think he got fed up," she told The News.

Green's transfer involves the state of his present mental health, not his mental health at the time of the shooting, Dell said. Green has not yet been evaluated by the prosecution's mental health expert, he said.

Green legally owned the weapons that police and prosecutors say he used.

Would-be mass shooting haunts sole victim of Dollar General gunman

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