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Buffalo police are continuing their search for the accused gunman in a fatal shooting Wednesday night in a community center gymnasium.

Odell Wilkins, 19, known by the street name of "O.J.", is wanted on murder- and weapon-related charges. Wilkins has been known to frequent addresses on Box Avenue and French Street.

Oscar K. Paris, 33, of Moselle Street, was shot in the chest after an argument in the CRUCIAL Community Center on Moselle Street. Police said the shooting stemmed from an argument during a basketball game.

Stove suspected in Wales house fire

The chimney from a wood-burning stove may have ignited a fire that destroyed a Town of Wales home early Friday, fire investigators for the Erie County Sheriff's Department said.

Volunteer firefighters from Wales Center, East Aurora, Strykersville and Marilla responded to an alarm at about 7 a.m. at 5143 Hunters Creek Road, East Aurora police said. A neighbor across the street reported seeing smoke coming out of the windows. The fire was ruled accidental.

Man pleads guilty to rape charges

A Hamburg Street man pleaded guilty Friday to raping a 13-year-old girl last fall.

Jailed since his arrest a day after the late-night sex assault in his own home on a girl whose family he knew, Rolando (cq) Balabis, 31, pleaded guilty to second-degree rape before acting State Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. McCarthy.

Lisa Bloch Rodwin, chief of the Erie County District Attorney's sex offense squad, told the judge the pretrial plea was to the highest charge lodged against Balabis last October by a grand jury.

Rodwin cited "outstanding work" by Buffalo Police detectives Jackie Sullivan and Thomas Vivian following the girl's complaint to a school counselor a day after the sex attack as providing prosecutors with a vast amount of evidence, including DNA findings, which prompted the guilty plea.

Balabis, who faces a maximum prison term of seven years, was remanded to jail pending his March 23 sentencing.

Man pleads innocent in murder try

A suspected Box Avenue drug dealer was ordered to remain jailed without bail Friday after he pleaded innocent to attempted murder and drug charges and traffic charges for allegedly trying to kill four Buffalo police officers who stopped him after an early morning traffic incident two months ago.

Walter Knightner, 20, was denied bail by State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang on his Jan. 26 indictment for the traffic incident that ended with his arrest Dec. 10.

Charged with transporting 18 bags of crack cocaine in a stolen truck that morning, Knightner, is accused of shooting at the Fillmore-Ferry District officers and faces first-degree attempted murder charges.

St. Vincent de Paul Society tops goal

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese has gone over the top with its 2000-01 fund-raising appeal.

Robert D. Wischerath, drive chairman, announced Friday that the appeal has raised about $160,000, a record for the organization which failed to reach its goal in three previous appeals. The total exceeded the goal by $10,000.

The money raised will help the organization operate its children's camp on Lake Erie in Angola as well as its dining room and thrift store, both at 1298 Main St., Buffalo.

Man sentenced for thefts from MetLife

A former star agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance was ordered Friday to pay the nearly $3,000 he owes his former employer within the next 90 days and spend five weekends in the Erie County Correctional Facility for defrauding 10 former clients out of almost $93,000.

As he was being sentenced on his preindictment guilty plea to felony grand larceny and scheme to defraud charges, Brian Lorenc, 32, told acting State Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. McCarthy he regretted the shame he has inflicted on his family. He starts serving his time on Feb. 16.

Prosecutors noted the Lancaster resident has already repaid MetLife over $90,000 of the nearly $93,000 he stole from clients from 1993 though the beginning of 1999.

Two shock-camp escapees recaptured

MONTEREY -- Two teenage inmates who escaped from a minimum-security boot-camp lockup were caught and returned to custody.

The pair vanished from the state-run Monterey Shock Facility in this Finger Lakes village shortly after going to their dormitory Thursday night, authorities said. Both were sent there in late December for burglary.

Marquis Hill, 17, of Lockport, was quickly captured and returned to custody. State police arrested Charles Loster, 18, at 12:35 p.m. Friday on a street corner in Buffalo. Loster, who is from Buffalo, was taken without incident along with a male acquaintance.

Free workshops on parenting scheduled

A series of workshops on EPIC, Every Person Influences Children, will be held in W.T. Hoag Elementary School, 42 Sunset Blvd., Angola, starting Monday evening.

The workshops, small supportive discussion groups led by trained facilitators, give parents an opportunity to come together to discuss parenting concerns and exchange ideas and parenting techniques. The free workshops will run for four to six weeks and will offer free care for children over 2.

For information or to register, call the Lake Shore Central School District Family Support Center at 926-2296.

Mascots take to the ice in Hamburg

Just a week after Super Bowl XXXV, Mascot Cup III makes its way to the Hamburg Town Arena.

The celebrity mascot hockey game is expected to have at least 12 furry characters taking their skates and sticks to the ice for a hilarious hockey game.

Those mascots who have been invited include Sabretooth, Buster Bison, Michigan J. Frog, Perrywinkle, Fuzzy, Ted E. Bear, O.C. Bee and the Apple.

The hockey game at 1 p.m. Sunday is one of many events taking place at this year's Hamburg Sno-Fest today and Sunday at the Lakeview Road Recreation Area.

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