WBEN AUDIO: Honored Officer Talks Of Training & Dangers Police Face

Under Fire, Niagara Deputy Tortorella Thought of Schoolkids More than Self

Dave Debo
June 07, 2017 - 6:37 am

AP photo


(WBEN) Over 1,300 fire police and homeland security officials are in Buffalo for a second day today to swap stories at the National Homeland Security Association's annual meeting, and one of the ones they are learning from is a nationally honored Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy who took a bullet when he put himself between  a gunman and an elementary school in 2015.

Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Tortorella was honored by President Obama after a 2015 standoff on Errick Road in Wheatfield after Duane A. Bores Jr  shot his parents in the neck, and opened fire on Tortorella as he arrived on the scene. 

" I shot him three times. He returned fire and hit me in the vest, probably 100 feet away from Errick Road Elementary School where my wife was teaching at the time and my son and my daughter were attending class. My son was very close to the incident probably about 100 feet from where bullets were flying around into the parking lot," Tortorella said 

In his presentation to other officers, and later with reporters, Tortella spoke of how training gave him the presence of mind to think of school children more than his own safety. 

"I'm not a SWAT guy or a tactical guy... I didn't do that because I'm super smart or anything. Your training just takes over," he said during an interview with WBEN's Dave Debo, after his presentation to other officers at the convention.


For the first time in the city's history, Buffalo is hosting the National Homeland Security Conference.

More than 1,500 law enforcement professionals are expected for the three-day conference that began Tuesday. Attendees will go to various meetings and demonstrations to talk about security and response planning.

Demonstrations also serve as a way to showcase law enforcement units from across the country. As Western New York is also a boarder community, officials from Canada are also participating in the conference.

The conference runs through Thursday.


The attack in Paris Tuesday had special significance for Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour and 1,300 of his colleagues as they attend a national conference in downtown Buffalo dealing with homeland security issues.

"All we can do is prepare," says Voutour. "We can't stop it. There was an attack in Paris at Notre Dame and police took out the suspect quickly. It's almost impossible to prevent everything, but if we prepare, we have the best chance at survival."

Among the speakers, Deputy Orlando Police Chief Robert Anzueto  who agrees police must be ready for anything. "You would think Disney, Universal Studios in Orlando that unfortunately we live in a society with a tourist population, it could happen there. It can happen in the rural towns too. It just takes one person who has the ideology from overseas and the radical Islamic thought process that could do harm, so never let your guard down," warns Anzueto. 

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