The burglar shot to death Monday afternoon by an off-duty Buffalo police officer in the officer’s University District home has been identified as 53-year-old Wayne Andre White, law enforcement sources confirmed Tuesday.
White, who sources say has used at least five different aliases, has an extensive criminal record, with at least four felony burglary convictions dating back to the 1980s, according to state Department of Corrections records.
One source said White had at least nine felony and 11 misdemeanor convictions, but that could not be confirmed because of the various aliases and dates of birth he reportedly used.
The prison records show that White was last paroled in December 2012, after having served almost nine years of a nine-to-18-year sentence for a 2004 burglary conviction.
“This burglar had a felony sheet as long as your arm,” said Thomas H. Burton, a Police Benevolent Association trial attorney who vigorously represents police officers accused in such shootings. “He was a master burglar and a one-man crime wave. It will not be surprising if the burglaries in that area drop precipitously.”
Police have said that off-duty Police Officer Duane Luchey, a 16-year veteran on the force who’s currently on injury leave, returned to his Lisbon Avenue home at about 1:30 p.m. Monday and found a previously closed – but not locked – dresser drawer open. Missing were the officer’s loaded Glock service pistol with two full magazines, authorities said.
After Luchey heard someone on the second floor and saw the intruder heading downstairs, the officer yelled, “Stop. Police,” Burton said, based on his conversation with Luchey. Then Luchey, armed with another gun, shot twice, mortally wounding White, who stumbled out of the house and fell onto the pavement.
The officer’s stolen gun then was recovered in some kind of a satchel, along with jewelry, coins and extra rounds of ammunition that had been stolen from the home, Burton said. Some of those valuables were found in White’s pockets.
“In this instance, the law allows the officer to wear two hats, one as a cop stopping an armed felon, the other as a homeowner who can use deadly force to stop a burglary,” Burton explained. “There is no obligation under New York State law for a homeowner or a police officer to be actually threatened with a weapon before he uses deadly force when confronting a burglar.”
The attorney made it clear that White did not have the stolen weapon out in his hand, ready to fire as he ran down the stairs, as had been reported earlier. “This officer had immediate probable cause to believe the intruder was armed,” Burton said. “The officer can’t see this guy’s hands, but he knows his gun and two clips of ammunition are missing.”
The shooting death is being investigated by Buffalo homicide detectives and the department’s Internal Affairs Division.
“It will likely be presented to an Erie County grand jury once the investigation is complete,” Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said Tuesday.
Without commenting on the specifics of the case, Sedita added, “If one chooses to become a professional burglar, one would think they would avoid breaking into the home of one of our police officers.” Monday’s deadly incident was at least the seventh time in the last 17 months that a Buffalo police officer has fired a weapon at a suspect. Four of those shootings have been fatal.
As a standard procedure, at least one prosecutor will review the Police Department’s investigation before the case goes to a grand jury. “This case, as well as the previous instances in which officers have shot suspects, will be thoroughly investigated,” Buffalo Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards vowed. “The results of those investigations are then turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for final disposition.”