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POLICE & COURTS

Falls slaying victim had knife, wore ski mask

Niagara Falls police are investigating an early-morning fatal shooting with an odd twist. The homicide victim was wearing a knit ski mask.

Police received a report of a shooting in front of a Ninth Street address at 12:56 a.m. today. Officers responding to the call found the body of a man who had suffered an apparent gunshot wound to the head, police said.

The dead man was armed with a large knife and wearing the mask over his face.

A witness told police he heard a commotion and then two shots. Police believe the possible shooter, wearing a gray hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans, fled north toward Ferry Avenue.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the department's Criminal Investigation Division at 286-4553.

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Hopkins Street fire victim listed in serious condition

A Buffalo man remained hospitalized in serious condition today after his Hopkins Street residence was heavily damaged by flames early Thursday morning, authorities said.

Donald Jablonski, 47, of 674 Hopkins, suffered serious smoke inhalation and burns to his face and hands, Buffalo fire officials said. He remained in Erie County Medical Center's Burn Intensive Care Unit.

"He woke up to the flames and ran to his neighbor's home," Fire Marshal Edwin Ortiz said.

The fire broke out in the bedroom of Jablonski's rear apartment at about 12:20 a.m., before spreading quickly throughout the 2 1/2 -story structure.

Damage was estimated at $20,000 to the building and $10,000 to the contents. The cause has not been determined.

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Gang member's killer gets 9 years on reduced charge

Cassidus "Devil" Carr was ordered Thursday to spend the next nine years in prison on a manslaughter charge.

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns imposed the sentence on Carr's guilty plea to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter for the shooting death of James "Animal" Jackson, 26, a Utica resident and member of the Gangster Killer Bloods street gang.

Carr, 20, who has been jailed since his arrest 12 months ago, declined to comment during the sentencing.

Homicide prosecutor Kenneth F. Case identified Carr and Jackson as members of the Bloods who had apparently had a falling out. Jackson reportedly had come to Buffalo to kill Carr, who instead shot him in a car at West Delavan Avenue and Hoyt Street at about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 7, 2005.

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Woman allegedly used late mother's SSI checks

A Buffalo woman is accused of cashing $42,752 of her deceased mother's Supplemental Security Income checks over nearly 12 years.

Shirley Little, 50, was charged with converting U.S. property for her own use, acting U.S. Attorney Kathleen M. Mehltretter said Thursday.

Little was designated the payee for the disability checks of her mother, Mattie Little, beginning in 1992. Her mother died Dec. 30, 1993, but Little continued to receive and cash the checks until May 2005, authorities said.

Little appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. and was released on her own recognizance pending another court date April 12, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison P. Gioia.

The U.S. Social Security Administration investigated the case.

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Conviction upheld in officer's death

ALBANY -- The state's highest court Thursday upheld the manslaughter conviction of a Maryland man for causing the death of a Buffalo police officer during a foot chase across the Kensington Expressway eight years ago.

Rastefa DaCosta, 29, "set in motion and legally caused the death" of Buffalo Police Officer Robert McClellan during a foot chase across the highway during morning rush hour traffic Feb. 25, 1998, the Court of Appeals ruled.

McLellan, 35, was part of a police team that joined bounty hunters in chasing DaCosta, who had fled to Buffalo from the Baltimore area because his father and other family members lived here. He was being chased by bounty hunters because he had jumped his $50,000 bail in a major drug case.

McClellan was struck by rush hour traffic after chasing DaCosta across the expressway. The state's high court rejected DaCosta's legal claim that the death of the police officer was not foreseeable and his claim he had not been engaged in criminal recklessness.

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Armed robbers strike Wendy's on Main Street

The Wendy's restaurant at 1051 Main St. was held up at gunpoint at about 9 p.m. Thursday, Buffalo police said.

Two men, one with a gun, made off with money from a safe and a cash register, police said.

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Baptist church's furnace is damaged by vandals

A Kensington Avenue church was targeted by vandals, a church officials told Buffalo police Thursday.

The furnace of Jordan Grove Baptist Church, 1264 Kensington Ave., was damaged when someone sprayed expanding foam into vent pipes, police said.

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