Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said Rochester Police officer Manny Ortiz accidentally shot himself in the thigh while driving into work Saturday evening. Baxter said the bullet hit his femoral artery.
Witnesses then saw Ortiz drift into oncoming lanes before crashing into a ravine on Empire Boulevard in Penfield.
Before the crash, Ortiz called his fiancée to tell her about the shooting and that he was attempting to drive to a hospital, according to investigators. Shortly after, his fiancée called 911 to inform them of what had happened.
Less than 15 minutes later, deputies applied two tourniquets and pulled Ortiz from the wreck. Despite their efforts, he did not survive the injuries.
Baxter said the gun that went off was Ortiz’s personal firearm. It has a safety. Investigators said they are unsure of where it was located when it went off, however upon responding to the scene it was in the holster.
Ortiz suffered that one gunshot wound that went through his thigh. The bullet was found lodged in the driver side door panel.
The Rochester Police Foundation is collecting donations to support his family. Board member Aaron Newman said the organization doesn't want them to have to worry about finances this close to the holidays.
Newman said this is one small way the community can show a first responder's family how much he was loved.
"The military, the police force, the sheriff's office, fire department, these are all people defending us, protecting us,” Newman said. “When something tragic happens to them- there are two things we need to do: We honor them but also make sure that we're taking care of their families the way they took care of my family, our family."
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren called Ortiz's passing a "great loss for the city" in a statement:
"There is no doubt that Manny Ortiz lived well, and served honorably and with compassion during his 22 years as an Officer in the Rochester Police Department. My sincere condolences go out to his wife and family, as well as, his brothers and sisters in uniform. I ask that all of Rochester join me in praying for the Ortiz family and all those that loved Officer Ortiz.”
The police union also remembered Ortiz in a statement released Sunday:
“We will always remember Manny’s infectious smile, love of his career, and zest for life. Truly loved, his loss is immeasurable for his brothers and sisters of the Rochester Police Locust Club. As we go forward in our service to others, we will serve with honor in our heart, and a tear in our eye in remembrance of our truly loved and missed."