Buffalo’s top cop is warning residents to avoid confronting armed robbers after two robberies involving victims fighting back.
One incident happened Monday night inside a hardware store when a robber fired a bullet into the ceiling, and the store owner and a customer retaliated by wrestling the gunman to the ground, knocking the gun out of his hand and holding him until officers arrived.
The other involved a store employee hurling beer bottles at a gunman who was spraying bullets inside a Bailey Avenue convenience store Sunday.
“We’re very fortunate that no one was seriously hurt,” Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“We at the Police Department are not recommending these types of responses. He could have been shot or killed lobbing those beer bottles,” Gipson said. “We are always concerned about people taking the law into their own hands. I don’t want to see people try to overpower a weapon.”
Gipson advised victims of robberies to leave the situation, get out of harm’s way and contact the police.
“The overwhelming goal is to survive,” the commissioner said. “Your life is more valuable than the dollars you may have earned.”
Monday night, a Roslyn Street man tried to rob a hardware store at gunpoint, but his plan was thwarted when the store owner and a customer tackled him to the ground, Buffalo police say.
Christopher G. Russell, 33, was charged with attempted robbery, reckless endangerment, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal use of a firearm.
Two male accomplices are still being sought.
Three men entered Northland Hardware, 508 Northland Ave. near Fillmore Avenue, at about 6:10 p.m., Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. De- George said
The store owner, Nathaniel Fountain, and three customers were inside the store at the time.
Police say Russell held up a .22-caliber revolver, ordered everyone to get on the floor and then fired a single shot into the ceiling.
“The suspect had his hand in the air with the gun,” said De- George. “A customer standing near the suspect reached for him, a struggle ensued, and the owner also jumped in. The suspect was caught by these people.”
The two others fled on foot. Northeast District Lt. Thomas Leatherbarrow and Officer Aaron Young arrested Russell at the store. The officers also recovered a .22-caliber revolver, which the store owner and a customer had knocked out of Russell’s hand, according to police.
Russell was treated in Erie County Medical Center for injuries suffered during the struggle and then was taken into police custody.