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Body of man identified; death ruled homicide

Police on Wednesday identified the body of the man found Friday afternoon in a vacant lot on the first block of Sears Street in the Ferry-Fillmore District as Brandon Hall, 20, of Buffalo, and ruled his death a homicide.

Hall was the city's 35th homicide victim of the year.

There were 55 homicides last year, according to police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge.

A passer-by spotted Hall's remains in the field and contacted police.

Anyone with information is asked to call or text message the Buffalo police anonymous tipcall line at 847-2255 or email the information by visiting and clicking on "Report a Tip."


Falls woman hit by vehicle and is seriously injured

NIAGARA FALLS -- A 76-year-old woman was seriously injured Tuesday when a vehicle struck her as she was crossing Niagara Falls Boulevard, city police said.

The driver fled, and the vehicle was last seen traveling west on Niagara Falls Boulevard at a high speed in the median lane. Police do not have a description of the vehicle.

Zenobia Williams was hit at 5:35 p.m. while crossing the boulevard at 82nd Street, police said. She suffered a head injury and broken bones.

She was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where she remained in critical condition Wednesday night.

"There is a high volume of traffic on Niagara Falls Boulevard, and normally people don't cross there," said traffic officer Mike Drake. "There is no crosswalk."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Niagara Falls police at 286-4563.


Man surrenders to end standoff on Erb Street

Buffalo police Wednesday night were still assessing the criminal charges to be lodged against a man who staged a standoff on Erb Street earlier in the evening.

The man, whom police did not immediately identify, barricaded himself in a home in the first block of Erb. He surrendered without incident at about 7:30 p.m.

Police initially responded to a call of shots fired in that area, and Buffalo Police SWAT and the Hostage Management teams were called to the scene after the man barricaded himself inside a home.

According to initial police reports, the suspect did not seem to be armed, despite his alleged claims.

No individuals were injured in the standoff.

Police late Wednesday were still trying to determine if any gunshots had been fired.


Abducted robbery victim frees himself from car trunk

A man who was robbed, kidnapped and forced into the trunk of a car early Wednesday escaped by pulling the trunk-release button after his captors abandoned the vehicle on a nearby Kensington-Eggert area street.

The victim told Northeast District police that he arrived at his friend's house on Leonard Street at about 1:15 a.m., when four assailants, armed with a handgun and shotgun, robbed him of $200, his keys and his jacket.

He then was forced into the trunk of the car, which later was abandoned a few blocks away on Millicent Avenue.

The victim escaped, knocked on a nearby door and had someone call police for him.


Man charged with DWI and fleeing police

ASHFORD -- A Felton Hill man was arrested Christmas Day at his home by Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputies and accused of drunken driving and fleeing from police.

Scott R. Thaler, 36, was charged at 12:30 a.m. with driving while intoxicated, speeding and resisting arrest.


Woman sentenced in theft from Ellicottville PTO

LITTLE VALLEY -- A Franklinville woman originally charged with grand larceny for stealing more than $4,000 from the Parent Teacher Organization at Ellicottville Central School has been sentenced in Cattaraugus County Court.

Tiffany J. Lubke, 32, pleaded guilty Oct. 13 to a reduced charge of petit larceny for the theft between Jan. 5 and Feb. 11, 2010 of $4,463 by debit card. The missing money was discovered through scrutiny of bank statements, officials said.

Lubke was sentenced last week by County Judge Larry M. Himelein to a one-year conditional discharge, 50 hours of community service and to restitution of $2,463 in six months.

She already has repaid $2,000 to the school group, prosecutors said.


Felony DWI suspect remains in custody

POMFRET -- A Jamestown man remained in custody Wednesday in the Chautauqua County Jail on a felony drunken driving charge stemming from his arrest Tuesday evening.

Benjamin D. Traks, 31, was stopped for failing to use a turning signal while turning on to Vanburen Road at about 7:20 p.m., deputies said.

Traks, who previously was convicted of driving while intoxicated, was charged with felony driving while intoxicated and the turn signal violation, deputies said.