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‘Hot spot’ for violence in Niagara Falls is focus of two cases in Niagara County Court

LOCKPORT – Two days in Niagara County Court, two violent crimes, but the same location: outside a gas station and convenience store in the heart of what Niagara Falls police call a “hot spot” for violence.

On Monday, Darryl J. Hill, of the Falls, was arraigned on charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault stemming from a stomping attack on a man July 27 outside the Coastal station at 19th Street and Walnut Avenue.

On Tuesday, Michael S. LoVerdi, also of the Falls, pleaded guilty to using a .22-caliber rifle to shoot out some windows at the store June 11 after he was told to stop loitering on the property.

“Traditionally, that 19th Street corridor has been a high-crime area, but recently there’s been an uptick in violent crime,” Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto said Tuesday.

A clerk at the Coastal station said the business isn’t to blame.

“It’s something that happened outside the store. It’s not something we can control,” said the employee, who declined to speak for attribution. “Everywhere we’ve got good people, everywhere we’ve got bad people. It’s not a bad area.”

DalPorto said his department’s Roving Anti-Crime Units, as well as regular patrols and intelligence units, are paying attention to 19th Street. “We’re working hard on it, but it’s one of our hot spots,” he said.

Hill, 37, of Niagara Avenue, pleaded not guilty Monday in the stomping of a man who was left with a brain injury, Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said. County Judge Sara Sheldon set bail at $100,000.

On Tuesday, LoVerdi, 24, of 20th Street, pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless endangerment for firing about six rounds from his rifle at the front door of the Coastal store. Assistant District Attorney Claudette S. Caldwell said that several people were around the front of the store but that no one was hurt.

“I just, like, snapped. I lost it,” LoVerdi said in court. “The guy came at me with a baseball bat. I thought I was gonna get jumped.”

LoVerdi will owe the store up to $1,200 in restitution for the broken glass and could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison when he returns before County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III on Nov. 15. He is being held without bail as a parole violator.

He had been released from state prison in December 2014 after serving 16 months of a 2½-year sentence for felony weapons possession. He and another man were armed with handguns when they knocked on the door of a Falls apartment as police were inside searching for drugs.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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