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A gust of wind appeared to blow the gun off the rooftop and onto the footpath below in the city’s Downtown area.
A police sniper rifle narrowly missed pedestrians when it fell from the roof of a building during a St Patrick’s Day parade in Buffalo, New York.
Police are investigating after a gust of wind appeared to blow the gun off the rooftop and onto the footpath below in the city’s Downtown area.
Photos of the bizarre incident, taken by a resident living across the street, show the rifle sitting atop a tripod with a weight attached on the roof’s ledge while an officer stands nearby.
Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia explained that SWAT officers were stationed at an “observation post” on the building at the time.
“They had a rifle with optics on it that was mounted on a tripod. The tripod had a bag that was weighted, holding it down,” he said.
“At one point, the information we've received is that the weapon was moved back even further away from the edge.
“We're looking at what appears to be a large wind gust that caught a hold of the weapon, flipped it over, and caused the tripod with the weapon to fall over the side of the building and onto the ground.”
Gramaglia said that the rifle didn’t fire as it hit the ground as it is designed to prevent accidental discharge.
Additionally, he confirmed that nobody was in the weapon’s path when it fell, nor was anyone hit by the firearm, which was removed from the scene by another officer shortly after it fell.
The Buffalo Police head confirmed that authorities have launched an internal investigation into the incident.
“We've opened an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding this. Without having the benefit of hearing what the members had to say, out of fairness to them, I want to get their statements,” Gramaglia said.
“Obviously, this is something that doesn't happen, and I don't ever recall hearing something like this happening.
“Part of this internal investigation is going to be looking into the protocols going forward. On the tripod, you can see in that picture there's a bag, it's a weighted bag so that it aids in holding that down.
“So, we have to look at further protocols and those changes... We have to make sure that doesn't happen again.”
Jeff Rinaldo, a retired Buffalo Police captain, said it was unlikely that the sniper rifle would have been a danger to the public.
“These weapons are not something like a handgun or something where you could just pick it up and the average person would know how to utilise it,” he told the Irish Legal News.