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Highland Ave. SUV fire described as arson

NIAGARA FALLS -- Traces of accelerant have led fire investigators to call a vehicle fire Sunday a probable arson.

The sport utility vehicle parked in a driveway at 3615 Highland Ave. was destroyed about 3:20 a.m., officials said, and a tire was flattened on a car parked nearby -- possibly the result of a gunshot.

Police said they received a report of shots fired in the neighborhood earlier in the evening. But during the car fire, four spent shell casings were found on the street. Police said they recovered a man's driver's license near the fire scene.


Driver fleeing police crashes into ditch

ROYALTON -- A suspected drunken driver fleeing from police crashed into a ditch about 5:30 p.m. Sunday and was ejected from his car.

Capt. James Voutour of the Niagara County Sheriff's Department said that being ejected may have saved the life of Rex Koytila, 41, of Niagara Falls, who was flown by Mercy Flight to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo.

Voutour said Deputy Gary May, believing he spotted a stolen car, attempted to stop Koytila's car in Hartland, but Koytila took off at speeds in excess of 70 mph. Following a 10-minute chase into Royalton, Koytila crashed on Bunker Hill Road.

Koytila was charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving.

Voutour said one car was forced off the road during the pursuit but the driver was not injured.


Falls man arrested on robbery charges

NIAGARA FALLS -- A 22nd Street man was arrested early Sunday on charges that included robbery with a deadly weapon.

Johnny Lee Gaddis Jr., 37, was taken into custody at about 1 a.m. by Officer Danny Pierini, who charged him with first-degree robbery and third-degree grand larceny. Details of the case were unavailable.


Fraudulent purchases follow loss of wallet

NIAGARA FALLS -- A thief used the contents of a lost wallet to make several fraudulent purchases Saturday, police said.

A 19-year-old Spruce Avenue man told police he lost the wallet Friday, possibly in a cab. The wallet contained a debit card, benefits card and identification papers, police said.

Saturday, several hundred dollars in purchases were made, police said.


Motorists tail driver until deputies make arrest

PENDLETON -- Motorists followed a suspected drunken driver from the Town of Lockport to the Campbell Boulevard area of Pendleton early Sunday, where Niagara County sheriff's deputies were able to stop him.

Daniel J. Verost, 42, of Sy Road, Wheatfield, was charged with driving while intoxicated after being pulled over at 3:23 a.m. Verost faces a Pendleton Town Court appearance.


Alcohol arrest follows teens' drinking party

WHEATFIELD -- Police investigating a loud party at a Craig Drive home late Saturday reported finding several underage partygoers drinking alcohol.

Young people scattered from the home at 11:28 p.m. as state police and sheriff's deputies arrived. They confiscated several containers of alcohol and arrested the host, 17-year-old Sloan E. Phillips, on a charge of unlawful possession of alcohol by a person less than 21 years of age.


Cause of fires in shed described as suspicious

WHEATFIELD -- A suspicious fire caused about $1,000 damage early Sunday to an 8-by-8-foot wooden shed at 6683 Walmore Road, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said.

Residents had extinguished the flames by the time emergency crews arrived shortly before 1 a.m.

Two separate fires had been reported on the floor inside the shed, which housed several toys and two propane gas tanks. Neither was damaged.

An investigation into the cause of the fire was continuing.


Falls store reports receiving fake bills

NIAGARA FALLS -- A manager at the A.J. Wright department store on Niagara Falls Boulevard notified police Friday night after discovering a number of apparently counterfeit bills in the day's receipts.

U.S. Secret Service agents responded to the scene and confirmed that the store had received 13 counterfeit $100 bills during the course of the day.

A review of store video surveillance tapes failed to turn up any potential suspects in the case, and An investigation is continuing.

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