FALL RIVER — A Fall River police officer accidentally discharged his gun while trying to break the driver's side window of a fleeing van, according to a statement from the Fall River Police Department.

It happened during an investigation of a series of pre-dawn small business breaks in the north and south end of the city. Police say since March 15, nine small convenience stores and restaurants were targeted. They say they learned that stolen vehicles were used to commit the crimes.

Police say last night, two breaks occurred and investigators determined that the vehicle used was a work van. Patrol officers and detectives observed the suspect vehicle traveling north on Route 24. Fall River Police with help from Massachusetts State Police tried to stop the van at a red light on Exit 8, according to the release from Fall River Police.

Fall River officers reportedly exited their cruisers with firearms drawn in an attempt to engage the suspect or suspects, but the van accelerated. A Fall River officer standing between his cruiser and the fleeing vehicle reportedly tried to break the driver’s side window with his firearm, causing the gun to accidentally discharge, the statement said.

"At this time the investigation shows no indications that anyone was shot as a result of the incident," the statement said.

The van fled south on North Main Street and was subsequently located in the south end of the city, police said.

The Fall River Police Major Crimes Division along with the Uniform Division will continue to investigate the breaks. The Office of Professional Standards Division will be conducting an independent investigation into the discharge of the firearm, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, investigators are asking for public assistance in identifying the suspects. They released a photograph pulled from video surveillance.

Courtesy Fall River Police
Courtesy Fall River Police

Anyone with information is asked to call the Detective Luis Vertentes of the Major Crimes Division or the Fall River Police Tip Line at (508) 672-TIPS (8477). A cash reward is being offered for information leading to the identity and prosecution of the suspect.

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