Two nights after moving to an apartment on Depew's run-down Main Street, Ted Moore was sitting on his front stoop when he said he spotted a man approaching, carrying a rifle.
The gunman stopped, lifted his weapon and trained it directly at him from across the street, Moore said. In the seconds that followed, Moore, 30, recalls drawing what he thought might be his last drag on a cigarette.
At that moment, according to Moore, two men began running from the corner. The gunman swung his rifle toward them, aimed and fired, striking one of them in the left leg.
"I jumped up and inside the door and yelled to my girlfriend to dial 911 . . . 'Somebody has just been shot,' " Moore recounted Saturday. "We just grabbed the kids and ducked down."
Depew police charged Michael A. Millett, 37, with assault and reckless endangerment early Saturday after the Friday night shooting. According to police, Millett left the corner after firing the rifle and returned to his nearby apartment at 542 Penora St., where he held police at bay for about two hours.
Four families were evacuated during the standoff, which ended when Millett surrendered at about 2 a.m.
The shooting victim, Edwin C. Wesolowski, 20, of Main Street, was listed in fair condition Saturday in Erie County Medical Center, where he was taken with a severe gunshot wound in the left leg.
Police said a .223-caliber military weapon was recovered from Millett's apartment along with a 12-gauge shotgun. Millett is in Erie County Holding Center in lieu of $75,000 bail.
The incident happened in a Depew neighborhood bordered on one side by a rail yard and on the other by the now-closed Dresser Industries plant.
"We have a lot of trouble in that area," said a police spokesman, who declined to be identified.
According to officers and residents, the area around Main and Penora has been the scene of two recent stabbings, one of them fatal, as well as a rape.
"There are a lot of transients, and we have a lot of community policing contact down there," the police spokesman said.
Others in the Depew department disagreed. Officer Frank Caparaso, a member of a community foot patrol, denied Saturday that the area has a growing crime problem.
"What happened last night doesn't happen all the time," he said.
But neighbors said the area's bars have always been a gathering place for people from Depew and nearby suburbs. When the former Dresser plant was operating, a handful of bars lined the first block of Main Street outside the gate, they said.
Several neighbors interviewed on Saturday claimed that they have been victims of serious crimes in the area, including assault and rape.
Police said the motive for Friday's shooting is under investigation.
According to witnesses, the shooting followed a confrontation earlier in the day between the suspect and Wesolowski, a former high school football player, outside a house at 52 Main.
Bryan Mortellaro, 18, who lives downstairs from Millet, also recalled the suspect warning, "If somebody bothers me, I'll shoot them."
"He (Millett) says he moved here two years ago from Buffalo because he thought the neighborhood would be better. . . . And he made it worse," Mortellaro said.