NIAGARA FALLS – In a scene that could have been out of a Hollywood action movie, a Niagara Falls police officer investigating an exchange of gunfire between the occupants of two vehicles at about 3 a.m. Saturday ended up being shot at by one of the gunmen attempting to get away, police said.
The officer, who was not identified, returned fire on the gunman, who was believed to be armed with a long gun. Police said they do not believe anyone was injured in the shootout.
Three police agencies searched the neighborhood with the aid of a K-9 unit but were unable to locate the gunman.
Police said the drama began with an exchange of gunfire between the occupants of a red car and a green van. As officers searched for the vehicles, they learned the green van had crashed at Ninth Street and Ferry Avenue. Police said the van had a bullet hole in the passenger side. Two passengers, who were not injured, were questioned but not charged, police said.
A short time later, police stopped the red car believed to be involved in the exchange of gunfire at Ferry Avenue and 15th Street. The driver, Rashaun M. Dix, of 26th Street, was arrested and charged with traffic offenses and unlawfully fleeing from police.
A passenger in the car, however, who fled on foot, shot at the police officer who gave chase. The officer returned gunfire but missed the passenger, police said.
The Niagara County Sheriff’s K-9 unit was summoned to search the neighborhood, along with State Park Police. The passenger remained at large late Saturday.
Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said detectives are following several leads and have interviewed several people in connection with the incident. He asked that anyone with information concerning the episode contact the Police Department at 286-4711.
After learning about the close call, Mayor Paul Dyster praised the “courage and dedication” of the city’s officers, saying they do “inherently dangerous work.”
“I am relieved none of our officers was injured,” said Dyster. “We will continue our multipronged attack on illegal guns, violent gangs and drug traffic,” Dyster said, until incidents such as the one that played out early Saturday are “a thing of the past.”