CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (AP) — It’s a “miracle” more people weren’t hurt when a man dressed in camouflage, wearing body armor and armed with two rifles sprayed a retail store with bullets, wounding one man, before being tackled by police, authorities said Wednesday.
Police in Cheektowaga, near Buffalo, said the gunfire erupted around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday outside a Dollar General store. The gunman fired repeatedly at the store’s entrance from outside while several customers and employees were inside, police Chief David Zack said.
When police arrived, witnesses pointed out the gunman, who attempted to run away after being hit by a bystander’s vehicle before being tackled by the officers a short distance from the store, located in a stand-alone building on a side street in a commercial district. No other shots were fired during his capture, police said.
A 53-year-old Cheektowaga man suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder, officials said. Police haven’t said if he was a customer or a store employee.
Police identified the suspect as Travis Green, 29, of Buffalo. His mother said her son and his wife had recently broken up, but police said they were still trying to determine a motive for what Zack called an “unprovoked attack.”
Zack said there was initial confusion over the exact location of the Dollar General because there are six of them in Cheektowaga, a sprawling suburb just east of Buffalo.
“It is a miracle I’m not reading the names of the deceased,” Zack said. Considering the number of rounds that hit the store, those inside “clearly were extremely lucky,” he said.
A pump-action, AR-15-style rifle was used to fire at least 20 rounds during the shooting, police said at a Wednesday news conference. Another 850 rounds and what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle with ammunition magazines were found in his car, police said. (Authorities had earlier described both weapons as being semi-automatic rifles.)
Green was arraigned Wednesday morning in town court on charges that included attempted murder, assault, criminal use of a firearm and resisting arrest. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held in the Erie County Jail without bail.
The name of his lawyer wasn’t immediately available.
His mother, Viola Green, was with her son during his arraignment and afterward said he and his wife recently broke up after seven years of marriage. She said her son spent part of the day Tuesday moving his things out of their house.
“I guess the stress took over,” Viola Green said.
Police said Travis Green had walked into the store unarmed, left the building and then began shooting soon after. Police said two civilians at a nearby business heard the gunfire and sprang into action.
Mark Pinnavaia, owner of a neighboring auto electronics store, said his assistant manager alerted him to the gunfire outside the dollar store. Pinnavaia said he saw a man putting his rifle on the ground in between firing at the dollar store.
Pinnavaia said he jumped in his car, drove across a grassy strip and hit the gunman, who flew over the vehicle and landed on the ground. The man, now unarmed, got up and ran with Pinnavaia and his employee, Christopher Kaufmann, in pursuit.
“There’s no question these individuals saved lives yesterday,” Zack said. “They are heroes.”
Back at work Wednesday, Pinnavaia and Kaufmann said they acted out of instinct after seeing the gunman firing at the store where they buy snacks and know the employees.
“Wasn’t going to be a victim,” Pinnavaia said.
“I don’t think it’s about being a hero. It’s about doing what you think you need to do,” Kaufmann said.
Police arrived while the men were chasing Green. A dashboard video from one of the police cars shows Green running along a road with officers in pursuit before one of the officers knocks him over a guardrail. Other officers with guns drawn then arrive while Green is subdued.