State AG’s Office begins investigation into police-involved shooting in Rochester

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UPDATE: The New York State Attorney General’s Office has formally opened an investigation into a police-involved shooting in Rochester that killed Brendon Burns. The office is required to investigate every police-involved shooting.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A man died after he was shot during an encounter with Rochester Police and Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies on Monday afternoon in the Park Avenue neighborhood. Police identified the man as Brendon Burns, 35 of Rochester.

Rochester Police say the Burns pointed a shotgun toward law enforcement and threatened them with a large hunting knife during a police chase through the neighborhood. According to RPD, they told him to drop the gun numerous times before both officers and deputies shot him at the corner of Milburn Street and Barrington Street, near Francis Parker School No. 23, around 1 p.m.

The school went into a lockout, with students either boarding buses from the nearby Asbury Church or were picked up by their parents.

Law enforcement tried to perform life-saving measures but the man died at the scene. The New York State Attorney General’s Office will investigate, as required for any officer-involved shooting.

RPD Chief David Smith and Monroe County Sheriff Baxter spoke about the shooting during a conference. Smith said the man was suspected of firing shots into a closed business on Monroe Avenue on Friday night and firing into a car in Brighton during a road rage incident around 7 a.m. on Monday. No one was hit in either of those incidents.

Three hours later, Rochester and Brighton Police officers spotted a car on Milburn Street that they believed was involved in both incidents. That led to a chase, which officers had to suspend on 590 due to safety concerns.

RPD said that, just before 1 p.m., officers and deputies spotted the suspect walking on Millburn Street. Deputies tried to stop the man on Vassar Street, which is when he threatened them with the knife, according to RPD. After that, deputies fired a bullet at the man but no one was hit.

RPD officers and deputies chased the man through several yards. RPD says the man pointed the shotgun at law enforcement in the backyard of a house on Barrington Street near the school. That’s where law enforcement shot him to death.

“Rochester police officers and Monroe County deputies both fired their weapons striking him multiple times. Officers and deputies performed life-saving measures however the male was deceased,” Chief Smith said.

Officers and deputies say this is never the outcome that they want for a chase with a suspect. In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, RPD Professional Standards Section and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs are also investigating the shooting.

“These guys showed extreme risk but also extreme restraint as much as possible,” Sheriff Baxter said.

Surveillance video from a resident shows a man running through the Park Avenue neighborhood as he’s chased by police. Several Rochester Police cars and Brighton Police cars surrounded the scene and some streets were blocked off on Monday.

Celia Petty spoke to News10NBC after she came to pick up her granddaughter from School No. 23.

“Obviously, the first thing we all thought was, ‘Oh my God, it’s the school.’ We’re glad to know that it’s not. Very relieved to know that it’s not. Hopefully, the kids weren’t frightened by all this,” she said.

Dani Austin was in town to visit the Rochester Institute of Technology. He saw the suspect come through the neighborhood.

“I didn’t see that he had anything in his hands. They just kept telling him to get down.,” Austin said. “When he came through the yard I was in the window so I got down low. I didn’t know what was going on at that point. So I just got down low. So we’re from out of state and we’ve been here like three days and I’m like, ‘I love this neighborhood, it’s so pretty, it’s so great’ and then this happened today and it’s a little scary.”

As police chased the suspect, one business was caught in the middle of it all. An employee from Stever’s Candy said he heard bullets fly and hit the building where several employees were working at the time.  

Stever’s Candy has been a staple on Park Ave and Vassar since 1946. The employee says one minute he was making chocolate, next bullets were flying and he heard the chaos outside. When he looked out the window, he saw a man running and police chasing him. 

“This is unfortunate however it’s not shocking. Bullets hit the building and an employee’s car,” Jeff Brocht said.

No one was hurt, thank goodness, but he says it could’ve been worse. In the nearly eighty years since the business has been in the neighborhood, he’s never seen an incident as scary as this one.

A neighbor who lives a few blocks from the shooting on Oxford says she was out for a walk when she saw RPD closed Vassar and Barrington streets. 

“I recently moved here, this is very concerning,” Jasmine Lyiath said.

This is the fifth fatal officer-involved shooting by RPD since 2021. RPD hasn’t yet released the name of the man that officers shot. Mayor Malik Evans released this statement about the shooting:

“Today’s officer-involved shooting in the South East area of our city was a tragic incident that ended in the loss of one life and other lives changed forever. My condolences are with the family and friends of the person who was shot and killed. I am thankful there were no other injuries during the dangerous events of today. I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in law enforcement, who run toward danger to keep others safe.”

Brighton Police Chief David Catholdi provided more information about the road rage incident that the man was believed to be involved in. Catholdi said the road rage started near Culver Road and Monroe Avenue in Rochester. It ended on Hemingway Drive, between Elmwood and Highland avenue, around 7 a.m. on Monday when two bullets were fired into a car.

More about Brendon Burns:

Burns’ family gave a statement to News10NBC on Wednesday. The family says he suffered with severe mental health issues:

“Brendon Tyler Burns was my beloved little brother.  On behalf of myself, Lesley his sister, his Mother, Father, older brother, sister, nieces, nephew, aunts and uncles,  I am speaking a few words here. Despite what was witnessed of his actions,  Brendon truly was such a kind, gentle, and unique soul. He loved Jesus with all his heart and soul. He was lost, he was deeply suffering.  He suffered tremendously with severe mental health issues and I only wish I or someone could have helped him some how. My mother took care of him to the best of her ability and would have died for him with the deep love she had for Brendon. She got to witness her youngest son suffer for so many years, then watch him get shot several times and fall to the ground in a chaotic scene to death.  Can any mother imagine this?! My family and I never imagined this horrific day would be the end. He clearly wasn’t in his right mind and to be killed is something we will never recover from. This was not right. Until this investigation is complete, we still are questioning many factors of the validity of what was reported and ultimately the way this situation was handled by law enforcement. He truly was such a handsome, funny, great guy.  His family and few friends he had throughout his short life can attest to that. The outcome of this situation is gut wrenchingly devastating for my entire family.  The word tragic doesn’t even come close.  This is like a horror movie to us.  The general public only sees the surface but look a little deeper into the suffering that Brendon experienced and now us his family that deeply loved and cared about him.  Jesus please take care of my little brother Brendon Tyler Burns.  Wrap your loving arms around my sweet brother and welcome him to your beautiful kingdom of heaven where we will all meet again someday. I do know now that you are finally at peace and will be laughing and smiling your beautiful smile from ear to ear for the rest of time. I want to clarify that in no way, shape or form am I or any one in my family saying my brothers actions were acceptable. We simply don’t have all the facts and proof yet and we need to see more clear footage from the body cam from the officer involved. We are in too rough shape right now to even think about this investigation.”    

Family of Brendon Burns

You can see the chief and the sheriff’s conference on the shooting here:

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You can hear reactions from neighborhood residents here:

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Here are Tweets of the scene unfolding: