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Suspect caught after 2 men are shot in Lockport holdup

Police apprehended a suspect about 90 minutes after two men were shot Wednesday night in an attempted robbery at a Sunoco gasoline station and convenience store.

Niagara County Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein identified the suspect as Steven Smith, no age available, of Checkered Tavern Road, Appleton. Beilein said Smith was caught in a field near his home after being pursued from the crime scene at South Transit and High streets. He said a gun was recovered.

Lockport Police Chief Neil B. Merritt said, "I don't believe there was a confrontation, just some commands issued to surrender."

Merritt said the men's wounds were not life-threatening. Both were taken to Erie County Medical Center, one by a Lockport Fire Department ambulance and the other by Mercy Flight.

Merritt did not release the names of the victims, but he said one, a man about 55, owned the store; the other is a store clerk in his late teens or early 20s. No information was immediately available on their wounds.

Police said a 911 call was received about 6:30 p.m. from someone who used a pay phone on the High Street side of the store.

Merritt said Capt. Jeffrey Brodsky
was the first on the scene and arrived in his patrol car just as the suspect was leaving in a blue Ford Taurus.

Other Lockport officers joined the chase and were assisted by Niagara County sheriff's deputies and state troopers, authorities said.

At one point, they lost the vehicle, Merritt said, but they had its license plate number. Beilein said they checked the registration and went to the Checkered Tavern Road address, where they found the car. Beilein said the Sheriff's Department's police dog, Ciro, tracked the suspect to a nearby field.

Beilein said Smith had not been charged as of late Wednesday.

Merritt said, "The individual came into the store brandishing a firearm. He tried to rob the store, and there was some kind of confrontation with some of the personnel in there. He wound up shooting a couple of the individuals and fleeing the scene."

Merritt said he thought that there might have been a customer in the store at the time. Capt. Lawrence M. Eggert, chief of detectives, said there was at least one witness to the shooting in addition to the victims.

The incident occurred just as Lockport detectives were returning to the city with a suspect they had arrested in Cheektowaga in connection with the robbery of an M&T bank branch on Walnut Street on Dec. 9. Merritt said they quickly secured him in a cell at Police Headquarters and headed for the shooting scene two blocks away. The name of that suspect was not immediately available.

Correspondent Harry Rosettani contributed to this report.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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