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Raging fire destroys old church on Sycamore

A raging fire Wednesday night in a vacant Sycamore Street building that previously housed a church led to the building's collapse, fire officials said.

The blaze broke out at about 7:20 p.m. in the basement or first floor at 1243 Sycamore, and firefighters arrived to heavy smoke and fire conditions. Fire crews, after determining no one was in the building, which was deemed unsafe, waged a external attack on the fire, according to Division Chief John Mogavero.

Mogavero said firefighters weren't taking any chances following the Aug. 24 Genesee Street fire that claimed the lives of Lt. Charles W. "Chip" McCarthy Jr. and Firefighter Jonathan S. Croom.

"In this case, we were certain there were no lives to be saved," he said. "It was a vacant structure."

A pair of aerial trucks poured water into the building. First, a chimney collapsed, followed by the partial collapse of the roof and then a wall, before the building crumbled, Mogavero said.

The building had housed Ark of Deliverance Christian Center and New Life Ministry of Christ. Firefighters saved an adjacent structure, which was exposed to the fire.

Damage was put at $40,000. Although the cause has yet to be determined, fire officials are calling the fire "suspicious."


Traffic stop turns up prescription painkillers

More than 100 tablets of prescription painkillers were found by state police during a traffic stop in Buffalo, troopers reported Wednesday.

The drugs -- 109 tablets of hydrocodone and 10 of OxyContin -- reportedly were found Tuesday, when troopers pulled over Megan A. Miller, 22, of Buffalo, at Fillmore Avenue and Paderewski Drive for an unspecified vehicle and traffic violation.
Miller, who was charged with several drug-related counts and a violation of Public Health Law, was taken to the Erie County Holding Center pending arraignment.

Operation IMPACT, a state-funded program supporting crime-related initiatives in the city, also made two other drug arrests in the city during its Tuesday operations.


Stained-glass window is pierced by bullet

A West Side church was damaged over the weekend after a bullet was fired through a stained-glass window, Buffalo police said.

Central District police were investigating the incident, which occurred at Spanish Church of God, 279 Rhode Island St., between 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. A wall inside the church also was damaged, police said.


Retired trooper gets prison in fatal DWI

LITTLE VALLEY -- Retired State Trooper David M. O'Brien was taken into custody Wednesday as State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. ordered him to serve a one- to seven-year prison term on his conviction for a fatal head-on car crash.

O'Brien, 69, of Boulder Ridge Road, Allegany, a trooper for 26 years, tearfully told the judge that he regretted causing the death of Salamanca casino cashier Wendy J. Karnes, 38, who was killed in head-on, drunken-driving crash at about 10:35 p.m. April 26, 2008, on Route 219 in Carrollton.

O'Brien, who had been working as an enforcement officer for the state Racing and Wagering Commission at the same casino, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and misdemeanor drunken driving following a two-week jury trial before Kloch.

O'Brien, who also was fined $5,000, was driving the wrong way on Route 219 when he crashed into a car driven by Karnes, who was pronounced dead at the scene.


Man indicted on charges in Internet child porn case

A federal grand jury has indicted a Cheektowaga man on charges of receiving, possessing and distributing Internet child pornography.

The felony charges were filed against Justin Jeffrey Amato, 27, after an investigation conducted by the FBI, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said Wednesday. FBI agents learned Amato used the Internet to receive and distribute child porn images over three years, beginning in January 2006, the prosecutor said.

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