CHEEKTOWAGA – Mark Pinnavaia, the owner of Daryll’s Car Audio at 2350 Union Road was sitting in his office when somebody in his shop yelled, “shots fired.”
“I came flying out of my office and at that point, I could see through the front window towards Dollar General and I could see an individual firing at the front of the building,” said Mr. Pinnavaia.
Within seconds of the shooter opening fire on the Dollar General Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Pinnavaia and his team jumped into action.
His manager Christopher Kaufmann called 911 while Mr. Prinnavaia grabbed his car keys and cellphone and got into his car. “I more or less reacted,” said Mr. Prinnavaia. His only intention at that point was to be the best observer at that point in time.
“Getting as much information, taking down as much information in case this individual decided to flee. I proceeded to watch him shoot at the front of the building.”
He watched as the gunman used a pump style long gun to spray the front of the Dollar General store with 20 bullets. One of the bullets hit a 53-year-old Cheektowaga resident. The gunman was identified by Cheektowaga Police as Travis Green of Cheektowaga.
When Green put down his weapon Mr. Prinnavaia decided enough was enough.
“At that point, sirens were coming and he took off running towards the backside of Dollar General down Gardenville Parkway. I figured that was my opportunity and I gunned my car with full intentions of hitting him.”
The shooter jumped over the hood of his car and continued to run. That’s when Mr. Prinnavaia chased the man on foot behind the store. He was joined by his store manager Christopher Kaufmann. They flushed the shooter back to Union Road.
“When we hit the guardrail at the top of Union Road we were met with Cheektowaga Police with guns drawn. At that point, I instantly stopped and put my hands in the air.”
In a split second – the officer looked at Mr. Prinnavaia and proceeded to chase the suspect northbound on Union Road.
“Had it not been for these private citizens, had it not been for the rapid response of our officers there’s no telling where this would have gone,” said Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack.
“These people were proactive. They saw a threat. I don’t recommend engaging with someone with an AR-15 rifle – I certainly don’t recommend that – but incredible bravery on the part of these individuals. They were not going to be victims – they fought back,” added Chief Zack.
A Reserve Deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Prinnavaia doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I feel that I was the right person, in the right spot, at the right time. The men and women of law enforcement and the military are the true heroes,” said Mr. Prinnavaia.
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