Crime fighters in Niagara Falls were the recipients of a holiday special of sorts -- solving two crimes in the investigation of one on Thursday.
The last thing they expected while pursuing two holdup men from a downtown supermarket Thursday morning was to solve a bank robbery from Tuesday.
At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, two men walked into the Tops Market at 1000 Portage Road, handed a note to a service counter employee, who was threatened with a handgun.
"They then fled on foot with a large amount of cash, but one of our police officers heard the alarm and spotted a suspect running down Ashland Avenue," Detective Capt. Ernest C. Palmer said.
Rookie Officer Anthony Littere followed the suspect in his patrol car for a short distance before chasing him on foot. Littere apprehended Nasir Id-Deen, 54, of Niagara Avenue, Niagara Falls.
Police also learned the second suspect was in 1344 1/2 Ashland. But when officers attempted to enter the two-story brick house, someone in the house warned police to leave.
Palmer said the Police Department's Emergency Response Team was called and the neighborhood cordoned off. For about an hour, Response Team members tried to establish contact with people inside the house, but were unsuccessful, "though we did see people by windows at times," Palmer said.
The team then took a more aggressive approach, Palmer said, and began breaking windows, when seven people filed out of the house through a side door and surrendered.
"We didn't know how many people were in the house. When we searched it, we found a sawed-off shotgun and pistol that had both been dismantled and ammunition," Palmer said. "We're pretty sure they took the weapons apart while they were waiting inside."
The search also turned up over $2,000 in cash in vents and ducts throughout the house, he said.
"Here's where it gets interesting. Some of the cash had red dye consistent with dye from a dye pack of bank cash.
"So we called the FBI and they supplied us with a photo of a suspect from a bank robbery here earlier in the week and . . . the first suspect matched the picture," Palmer said.
Id-Deen is accused of robbing the Key Bank branch at 800 Main St., Niagara Falls, at 9:03 a.m. Tuesday, Palmer said, and also being an accomplice in the Tops robbery.
His alleged accomplice in the Tops holdup, Armondo R. Torres,19, of Oxford Avenue, Buffalo, was one of the seven to surrender in the Ashland house, police said.
Id-Deen was charged with two counts of first-degree robbery and Torres was charged with one count. First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist is to see U.S. attorney's staffers today to discuss possible federal charges.