Suspect identified, officer in fair condition after shooting in Buffalo

(Officer Joseph Acquino)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Buffalo Police Officer was shot around 5 p.m. on Sunday evening.

Buffalo Police Department Lt. Jeff Rinaldo says that two officers were conducting a traffic stop near Garfield and Hartman. During the stop there was a struggle which led to one officer being shot in the head, specifically the ear, by the suspect. The officer’s ear was saved.

The second officer then fired at the suspect striking him in the arm/shoulder area.

The suspect was found a short distance from the scene and taken to Kenmore Mercy where he was pronounced dead. Sources tell News 4 he was 26-year-old Jose Hernandez-Rossy.

According to sources, Hernandez-Rossy had an extensive criminal record.

Both officers, who had been partners for three years, were taken to ECMC. The officer shot, Joseph Acquino, underwent surgery and was in fair condition as of Monday morning.

Monday afternoon, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Acquino is “lucky to be alive.”

“An inch difference and the officer would not be with us,” Brown commented. Police say the officer is in “good spirits” and is improving.

“They put their lives on the line every day, and at any moment, things can go from totally boring to an incident like yesterday,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said.

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The other officer is under evaluation.

The officer that fired at the suspect has been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.

A silent vigil was held at Hertel & Tonawanda St. Sunday evening to show solidarity with the Buffalo Police Department.

The vigil was organized by members of the Black Rock/Riverside neighborhoods, spurred by social media.

“We’re just here supporting our neighborhood. My sister and I, once we saw this, we decided to come out here, support our police,” said Don Abbott. “They’re always there to protect us. Our great-grandfather was a Buffalo police officer, our grandfather was a police officer. Blood family or not, everybody supports each other.

Buffalo Common Councilman Joe Golombek said the act of people coming together may appear simple, but it sends an important message.

“These poor officers get enough crap from people, for simply doing their job,” Golombek said. “And the people in Black Rock and Riverside neighborhoods and most of the city of Buffalo are very very supportive of our officers, and we know that there is that one thin blue line between chaos and anarchy in the civilization that we have. It’s the police officers that are protecting us. We know that, we want to show the officers our support and let them know that we are with them.”

Last Friday, Acquino was honored by the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association for heroism. The 31-year-old officer and his partner were also honored  last August by the Italian-American Police Association after Acquino tackled a suspect who tried to kill his partner.

Buffalo police, the Erie County District Attorney’s office and the State Attorney General’s office are investigating the incident.

As a sign of solidarity, Buffalo’s City Hall was lit up blue overnight.

A rally for Acquino is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 16 at the Rusty Buffalo Saloon in West Seneca. Tickets are $25 and will include an open bar and food.

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