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Priest injured in fight with intruder in St. Lawrence Church

A priest at St. Lawrence Catholic Church was injured early Thursday when he fought off a would-be burglar during a violent confrontation in the rectory of the East Side church.

The priest, who asked not to be named, said he investigated after awaking to the sound of the alarm in the rectory at 1520 E. Delavan Ave.

After finding the back door pried open, he confronted a man inside.

When the priest said that the parish was poor and had no money, the intruder attacked him. The priest said that, as the two wrestled, the burglar took out a knife and repeatedly cut his left hand.

The priest said he grabbed a handful of de-icing salt from a nearby container and threw it in the burglar's face, momentarily stunning him, then pushed him out the door.

The priest was treated in St. Joseph Hospital, Cheektowaga.

"He could have done a number on me," the priest said. "It could have been a lot worse."

The intruder was described as 6-foot-5 and weighing more than 300 pounds.

Council Member Richard A. Fontana, D-Lovejoy, has offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the break-in. Call 851-5151 with information; all calls will be kept confidential.

This is the second break-in at St. Lawrence in recent weeks.

On Feb. 1, someone entered the St. Lawrence convent on Roma Street behind the church and stole some religious items and money while the nuns slept.

Andrew J. Johnson, 20, who lives on East Delavan Avenue several houses from the church, was charged with burglary and other crimes in that case.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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