A 79-year-old Cheektowaga woman was the victim of a terrifying home invasion robbery early Sunday in which two intruders broke through her bathroom window, stole her cash and beat her over the head with their gun.
Police said the victim, whose identity was not released, was conscious and alert after the assault and did not suffer any serious injuries. She was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, Cheektowaga, for a precautionary examination.
An extensive police manhunt led to the arrest of Fabian T. Jones, 17, of Langfield Street. Jones was charged with criminal use of a firearm, burglary, assault and robbery. An accomplice is being sought.
Sunday's burglary on Veterans Place is the third home invasion in the past six months in that neighborhood -- a usually quiet, middle-class residential area bounded by William Street, Harlem Road and the Thruway.
All three burglaries targeted elderly people, all involved violent assaults and all occurred on two short streets that intersect.
Capt. John Glascott said investigators are trying to determine if the break-ins are connected.
"It's too early to tell if these burglaries are all related, but the m.o. certainly sounds similar," said Glascott. "In this case, they were in and out really quickly; no more than a couple minutes inside the home. In the other cases, they were in the homes for two to three hours at a time, ransacking and terrorizing the folks."
At about 3 a.m., the elderly woman heard banging noises in the back of her Veterans Place house and called 911. Glascott said the burglars had been trying to break through her steel door but soon gave up because it was too sturdy.
The burglars then broke through a bathroom window and entered the house.
Two men confronted the woman in her bedroom. One of them displayed a long gun and used his weapon to strike the woman twice in her head, knocking her to the ground.
The men ordered the woman to tell them where the money was, she complied and informed them that she had just called the police. The men then stole a small amount of cash and ran out of the house.
Cheektowaga police led the search for the burglars, assisted by Buffalo police, West Seneca police and state police.
The manhunt involved more than a dozen officers on foot and in cars, a tracking dog and a State Police helicopter.
About 45 minutes after the break-in, the dog picked up the suspect's scent near railroad tracks behind Wrazen Park. Jones eventually emerged out of the darkness and surrendered.
Police said a handgun was recovered within feet of Jones. Police also confiscated a long gun, believed to have been used in the burglary, which a resident found in a backyard on Nandale Drive.
Cheektowaga police also activated their Reverse 911 Interactive Community Notification system, an automated telephone alert that informed residents within several blocks of the crime that officers were scouring their neighborhood for home invasion suspects and urged them to report any suspicious activity.
Glascott said his Police Department "stepped-up" patrols in this area ever since the violent break-ins occurred last fall.
On Nov. 16, an 80-year-old Cheektowaga woman was in her Henry Street home at about 12:20 a.m. when two masked men cut her phone line, ransacked her house for more than five hours and stole her cash. With the phone line cut, the woman was unable to report the robbery until her caregiver stopped by at 1 p.m.
A similar home invasion on Oct. 4 involved a 74-year-old man and his 82-year-old sister, who also live on Henry Street. The armed men held the brother and sister at gunpoint for three hours -- binding one of them -- and cutting the phone line. The captors stole about $9,500.