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Lockport police sifting clues in beating death

Police on Monday were still looking for a suspect and motive in a homicide the day before that rattled a West End neighborhood.

Police found the body of Robert J. Camarra, 54, in the dining room of his first-floor apartment on West Avenue just after 8 p.m. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, police said.

Detective Capt. Lawrence Eggert said he would not release the type of weapon used in the attack but noted that an object was used to bludgeon Camarra to death. He also said there was no clear motive in the attack and no indication of a robbery.

Police are not sure if the door was kicked in but said the attacker killed Camarra right in the entryway. Witnesses saw a stocky man dressed in dark clothing leaving the area. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police at 439-6722.

Camarra was a construction worker who grew up the Lockport area, living at various city addresses. Acquaintances described him as "a nice guy," but he also had a long police record.

He had been charged by Niagara County sheriff's deputies March 13 in connection with the theft of $70 worth of food from a Quality Market in the Town of Lockport. He also had past arrests for assault and drug possession.

"He's been involved with the police for low-level crimes but nothing that rises to the level of homicide," Eggert said.

Gerald DeFlippo, the owner of DeFlippo's Restaurant on West Avenue, as well as a city councilman and longtime county legislator, said neighbors saw police officers descend on the area Sunday night. He found out Monday that the deceased man was his cousin.

"He was a mixed-up kid, in and out of jail since he was 16. But he was someone you couldn't help but like," he said.

Mary Penwright, a clerk at Frank's Deli, said, "It's scary that this would happen just around the corner. West Avenue is always a very well-patrolled main thoroughfare."

She said Camarra had lived on West Avenue for only a few months and often came in to buy groceries or go next door to do his laundry.

"It's just a shame. No one deserves to die like that," said Penwright.

Maria DiPasquale looked at the police tape surrounding her neighbor's home Monday while standing in her front yard.

"I've been living here since the 1960s and never had any problems. This is scary for the neighborhood," said DiPasquale.

Eggert said people in the neighborhood should not worry.

"This does not appear to be a random killing," he said. "[Camarra] probably knew [the killer]."

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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