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POLICE & COURTS

Fire at vacant church is declared an arson

A fire that caused an estimated $250,000 damage to a vacant North Buffalo church Saturday was declared an arson Monday by Buffalo fire investigators.

One firefighter suffered a leg injury in the fire at a long-vacant Gothic-style church at Tacoma and Colvin avenues.

Neighborhood residents said over the weekend that the church, which the Korean United Methodist Church bought about six years ago, remained vacant and became a meeting place for area teenagers and younger children.

According to Fire Department reports, the blaze started in the rear of the first floor in some garbage that apparently had been deliberately set on fire.

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Police still probing death in Shoreline Apartments

Buffalo homicide detectives continued Monday to investigate the death of a woman found in the Shoreline Apartments on Saturday afternoon.

An autopsy conducted by the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office could not determine the exact cause of death, requiring further police work.

Police will not release the name of the victim until her death has formally been ruled a crime, the result of natural causes or was self-inflicted, a police spokesman said.

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Aggravated DWI charged after hit-and-run crash

A Kenmore man was arrested Saturday by West Seneca police and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated after a hit-and-run crash in Cheektowaga, police said.

At 8:45 p.m., West Seneca police found Clinton R. Powless, 45, in the parking lot of Jim's Steakout on Seneca Street in his "heavily damaged" vehicle, they said.

After failing several field sobriety tests, Powless was arrested by Officer Brian Cosgrove and returned to department headquarters for processing. He then was turned over to Cheektowaga police as part of the hit-and-run investigation, police said.

The accident in Cheektowaga occurred at Union Road and Innsbruck Drive, and was reported at 8:33 p.m., according to a Police Department spokesman. Powless hit a utility pole and an occupied vehicle. Further details about the accident weren't immediately available Monday.

Powless was charged by Cheektowaga police with failure to yield the right of way on a left turn, operating without insurance and leaving the scene of an injury accident.

He was released on an appearance ticket for a future court appearance.

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Motorcyclist killed trying to pass SUV

BERGEN -- A Rochester-area motorcyclist was fatally injured Monday when he tried to pass a sport utility vehicle on Route 19, according to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Gregory P. Healy, 26, of Keith Terrace, North Chili, who was driving with a motorcycle learner's permit, was pronounced dead at the scene by County Coroner Robert Yungfleisch.

Deputies said Healy was headed north at about noon and trying to overtake another northbound vehicle, a 2007 Toyota SUV operated by Denine Scott of Batavia, when he struck the SUV's left rear tire, tipping his motorcycle, which went over a guardrail on the highway's west edge.

Healy was ejected from his bike and apparently died instantly, deputies said.

Scott, though shaken by the incident, was not injured, deputies said.

Healy's body was taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

Initial findings indicate the crash was caused by Healy's excessive speed and inexperience on a motorcycle, deputies said.

An investigation by the sheriff's Crash Management Team is continuing.

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Man accused of claiming to be a law enforcer

A Pershing Avenue man was charged with allegedly impersonating both a Buffalo police detective and a federal agent while armed with a switchblade.

Richard McCaul, 59, is accused of claiming to be a Buffalo police detective while harassing a man on Pearl Street at about 6 a.m. Sunday and claiming to be a federal law enforcement officer before he was arrested on Lemon Street at about 7:15 a.m. the same day, Buffalo police said.

Buffalo Officers Mariette O'Brien and Thomas Mayes reported that they arrested McCaul in the first block of Lemon after he approached a resident and threatened him with a knife.

A police surveillance camera captured him approaching a man on Pearl Street, police reported.

McCaul was charged with first-degree criminal impersonation, second-degree menacing, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment.

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Council member surrenders to police in Jamestown

JAMESTOWN -- A City Council member surrendered to police Monday on allegations that he committed felony criminal mischief by breaking a window at Sneakers Bar at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Michael A. Taylor, a substitute city teacher, said he is stepping down as chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee.

Taylor is scheduled to appear in City Court on Friday.