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Three vacant houses torched
in Barthel-Ivy neighborhood

Three intentionally set house fires in the Barthel-Ivy neighborhood early Wednesday have prompted neighbors to appeal to the public to help authorities catch whoever is responsible.

"The fires were all set within a couple hours of each other, and flammable liquid was used in each fire," said Darnell Jackson, a spokesman for the Barthel Street Block Club.

The first of the fires, all in vacant dwellings, was started at 3:56 a.m. at 58 Ivy St. Shortly afterward, firefighters responded to 31 Ivy and at about 5:30 a.m. to a blaze at 25 Barthel St.

Gunman threatens clerk,
flees; suspect arrested

A gunman threatened a clerk in a 14th Street grocery store and fled empty-handed Tuesday night, and a suspect later was arrested by police, authorities said.

Jose Gonzalez, 22, of no permanent address, was accused of entering the Corner Store in the 300 block of 14th at 11 p.m. and threatening the clerk with a handgun.

After a brief struggle, the gunman fled. Gonzalez was caught on a garage roof in the 200 block of 15th Street, according to arresting Northwest District Officers Jamie Miller and Terrence Supples.

Gonzalez was charged with first-degree robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.

Man who broke into home
of elderly woman is sought

Cheektowaga police are seeking the public's help in apprehending a home-invasion burglar who tried to befriend a 75-year-old woman Sunday, the day before he broke into her home before dawn, grabbed her and stole about $100 from her.

The thief came to her house on Broadway Sunday in an attempt to befriend her, claiming that she and his grandmother were friends, police said. The woman sent him away without incident.

At about 5 a.m. the next day, the man returned, entering through a basement window, then kicking in her kitchen door, according to police. The woman confronted him and swung at him with her cane, but she was unsuccessful in stopping him. He also disconnected her phone cord from the jack.

The bandit grabbed her and said: "I need money. I need money for my sister," according to Detective Gary Martz.

Police are looking for a clean-shaven white male, probably in his mid-20s, about 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds. He was wearing a blue jacket and a baseball cap.

Bad furnace motor prompts
middle school evacuation

LOCKPORT -- School officials evacuated Emmet Belknap Middle School on High Street for 21 minutes Wednesday morning when a gymnasium filled with smoke, fire officials said.

The incident occurred at 9:10 in the lower gym when a motor in a ceiling furnace apparently burned up, making it to appear there might be a fire in the school, fire officials said.

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