District Attorney, Sheriff investigate attempted murder of Chautauqua County Deputy

Justin Haffa

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) –  A man from Cheektowaga could spent the rest of his life in prison. Police say he wrestled a Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Deputy to the ground and tried to kill her.

The deputy was responding to a routine car crash at the time. This all happened early Sunday morning on Route 60 in the Town of Pomfret.

The Chautauqua County District Attorney tells us this is the most serious offense you can be charged with in the state. It comes with a price tag of 20 to 40 years to life in prison if convicted. He says for many Sheriffs Deputies on the job, what happened here is their biggest fear.

Acting District Attorney Patrick Swanson said, “It’s the kind of thing that most law enforcement officers fear. They’re out there by themselves  they don’t have a partner riding with them. It’s something that’s a big concern for them when something like that happens.”

These are the kinds of cases that worry him. He said, “You hate to see something like this happen to someone who has committed their life and their career to protecting the people.”

The Deputy was dispatched to the scene of a property damaged car accident on Route 60 north of Cassadaga early Sunday. Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace said, ” The Deputy began investigating and was suspicious the driver was under the influence and began doing field sobriety.”

The Sheriff says that’s when Justin Haffa attacked the female deputy  and revealed a knife. The deputy fired her gun, but Haffa was able to wrestle the gun away and ran off.

Gerace said, “This is probably the most serious threat to life in quite some time.”

A manhunt involving federal, state and local authorities was launched, Haffa was found walking down a road far from the scene around 7:30am with the Deputy’s gun in hand and  was arrested.

The District Attorney said there is a chance they could present this case directly to a Grand Jury.

Swanson said, “Obviously we’re treating this case very seriously and we want to treat this in the best possible way moving forward.”  He plans to speak to this Deputy, whose identity is not being released, tomorrow evening to get an account of what happened. The Deputy was treated at an area hospital and released.

Haffa was arraigned in the town of Pomfret court where this incident happened. He’s being held in the county jail without bail and is charged with a felony. He’ll appear in town court on Thursday at 9am for a preliminary hearing.

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