AMHERST, NY - Two Amherst police officers were injured while trying to arrest a shoplifting suspect around 9:45 p.m. Saturday.
Amherst Police tell us they responded to a call of a larceny in progress at the Walmart on Sheridan Drive. Witnesses pointed out who the suspect was and one of the officers chased him to his pick-up truck, where they got into a struggle.
The suspect was able to get into the pick-up truck and drive off, while the officer was holding onto his steering wheel. The pick-up dragged him some distance, police say.
The other officer, fearing that his partner's life was in danger, started firing at the vehicle. The officer being dragged by the pick-up managed to disentangle himself and the suspect sped off.
While all this was going on, another Amherst police officer on foot was hit by a patrol car arriving at the scene to assist in the arrest. He was seriously injured.
Later in the night, acting on tips they received from the public, police arrested the suspect. Ronald Kerling, 33, of Buffalo, has an extensive criminal history, police say, and he was on parole for a felony conviction in another jurisdiction when he allegedly tried robbing the Walmart.
Both the officer who was dragged by the truck and Officer Corey Brown, who was struck by the patrol car, were taken to Erie County Medical Center. Brown's condition is unknown at this time, but his injuries are serious. The other officer was treated and released. Brown was off-duty at the time of the robbery but answered the call anyway.
Kerling was charged with reckless endangerment in the first degree, petit larceny, resisting arrest, reckless driving and unlawfully fleeing a police officer. He was arraigned Sunday afternoon by Amherst Town Justice Kara Buscaglia and is being held at the Erie County Holding Center without bail.
The investigation is continuing and police are asking anyone with any information about the incident to call the Amherst Police Department at (716) 689-1311.