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Genesee County Sheriff’s Office sergeant dies while responding to altercation at Batavia Downs

By March 13, 2024News

Article originally published: | March 10, 2024

BATAVIA — A well-liked and decorated veteran Genesee County sheriff’s sergeant died early Sunday morning after an altercation with two patrons at Batavia Downs.

Sgt. Thomas A. Sanfratello, 54, may have suffered a massive heart attack and died despite frantic efforts to save him.

“It is with the deepest regret and sorrow that the Genesee County sheriff reports the line-of-duty death of Sgt. Thomas A. Sanfratello, age 54, who passed away on March 10, 2024, following his involvement in an incident while working a special assignment detail at Batavia Downs,” the Sheriff’s Office said, in a statement announcing his death.

The incident began about 12:30 a.m. when Sanfratello and casino security were notified about an altercation inside the facility.

After responding to an initial verbal confrontation inside the bar area, Sanfratello, alongside Batavia Downs security staff, began escorting two patrons — later identified as Michael J. Elmore, 33, and Lyndsey Jean Wilcox, 39 — out of the building at security’s request.

Wilcox allegedly became physically combative with Sanfratello, who, with help from Batavia Downs security staff, was able to gain control of her and place her under arrest.

Elmore then allegedly began to interfere with the arrest and attacked Sanfratello.

Batavia Downs security officers and civilians tried to assist Sanfratello with taking Elmore into custody and a physical fight ensued.

Sanfratello attempted to use a Taser on Elmore, who allegedly continued to be combative, said city of Batavia police, who are now leading the investigation.

Sanfratello then became unresponsive during the confrontation, police said. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was started immediately, but was unsuccessful.

Sanfratello was pronounced dead by the Genesee County coroner.

City police are coordinating with the Sheriff’s Office, Genesee County District Attorney’s Office and Batavia Downs as the investigation continues.

Witnesses told The Daily News that police were called to The Downs for unruly patrons and Sanfratello was attempting to help security subdue a man who was being evicted from the venue.

David Reamsnyder and his wife Lori were leaving about 12:30 a.m. when he saw the commotion and Sanfratello helping to subdue a man — later identified by police as Elmore — on the floor.

“We got a room for the night and we were heading out and we saw a security guard trying to subdue a guy on the ground,” Reamsnyder said. “The deputy was helping and he collapsed. I ran over and tried to rip his shirt off and began giving him CPR.”

Reamsnyder, of Albion, said he continued CPR for some time before medics arrived and took over.

“I asked someone his name and they told me it was Tom. I kept telling him to hold on and it was going to be OK,” he said. “I feel for his family and for the police force. I’m a big supporter of police. They are good people.”

Witnesses described the scene at The Downs as chaotic, with multiple altercations both before police arrived and as efforts were ongoing to save Sanfratello.

The Downs hosted a performance by a Prince tribute band. Another band performed at 34 Rush after that show.

Reamsnyder said he and his wife attended the show and decided to leave after altercations erupted at 34 Rush.

“It got really crazy in there,” he said. “That’s when we decided to go up to our room.”

He said the Elmore apparently had been kicked out of the venue earlier but returned.

Sanfratello served 32 years with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. He began his career as a dispatcher on Feb. 29, 1992, was appointed a deputy sheriff in 1996.

He was promoted to sergeant in 2007. He was honored with the Officer of the Year Award in 2006 and again in 2012.

Sanfratello also a town of Alexander board member in 2022.

Sanfratello was one of the most well-liked officers in the community. Outpourings of support for his family and police have inundated social media since his death.

There has also been an outpouring of support from the area’s law enforcement and first responder communities, along with Batavia Downs officials.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of Sergeant Sanfratello and all the members of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office at this extremely difficult time,” said Chief Shawn Heubusch of the Batavia City Police.

Batavia Downs President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek said in a statement that Batavia Downs is committed to assisting the Sanfratello family and the entire community through this difficult time.

“The Batavia Downs Family is extremely saddened by the loss of Sergeant Sanfratello and send our very deepest condolences to his family,” Wojtaszek said. “We rarely have incidents at our facility in large part due to the incredible efforts of people like Sergeant Sanfratello.”

“While words cannot express our sorrow, our thoughts and prayers are with the Sanfratello family and his extended first responder family,” he continued. “The safety of our guests and our dedicated staff is our highest priority and we will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement throughout their investigation.”

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty tweeted on Sunday: “On behalf of myself and the men and women of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, our hearts and our prayers are with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office members as they mourn the loss of a teammate and friend. We are here for you and his family.”

Members of the Gates Fire Department paid their respects Sunday, the department tweeted. Its members stood at attention on several overpasses during the transfer of Sanfratello’s body.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all of law enforcement,” they wrote.

“Sergeant Sanfratello’s family would like to extend their sincere appreciation for all the overwhelming support they have received from friends and fellow first responders,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the release.

Funeral arrangements are being completed by Gilmartin Funeral Home & Cremation Company, Inc. in Batavia.

City police are seeking the public’s assistance as the investigation continues.

Anybody who may have witnessed the incident or has video are asked to contact the city of Batavia Police Department Detective Bureau at (585) 345-6311 or submit a tip at

Journalist and former Daily News editor John Anderson contributed to this story.

The 100 Club of Buffalo offers its deepest condolences to the loved ones of Sgt. Thomas A. Sanfratello. Additionally, we will be providing financial support to his family during this difficult time.