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FBI probes holdups of two area credit unions

FBI agents in Buffalo are investigating a pair of recent credit-union robberies to determine if they are the work of the same band of criminals.

At 11:15 a.m. Thursday, Westinghouse Credit Union on William Street in Cheektowaga was held up by four bandits, authorities said. At least two of the robbers were armed, one with a silver revolver and the other with a black semiautomatic handgun.

One customer declined medical treatment after apparently being struck in the head by one of the bandits with an unknown object, Cheektowaga police said.

The thieves took several thousand dollars and injured at least one person during the robbery.

At 12:20 p.m. Oct. 17, three armed men robbed the Morton R. Lane State University Federal Credit Union on Englewood Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda. One of the gunmen forced a clerk to empty a cash drawer, while the two others emptied the vault, according to Tonawanda police. The robbers made off with thousands of dollars.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Peter J. Ahearn said Thursday that federal law enforcement was stepping in to investigate because of the violent and serial nature of the robberies.

"The question is, 'Is there a connection?' " said Ahearn, noting that the FBI does not get involved in the investigation of most bank robberies.

But the two credit-union robberies involved several gunmen who displayed their weapons and held up the facilities in "takeovers," he said.

Ahearn said his agents would meet with Cheektowaga, Tonawanda and Buffalo police officials today to discuss the cases.

"We are in contact with the Tonawanda police to see if there is any connection," Cheektowaga Capt. John Glascott said today. "There's certainly enough similarities that we have to take a look at in the Tonawanda case.


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