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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Man charged with using illegal pepper spray gun

LOCKPORT -- A West Avenue man was charged just after 5 a.m. Tuesday with shooting a man in the face using an illegal pepper spray gun.

Chad W. Munt, 30, was arraigned in City Court on charges of felony second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Bail was set at $10,000, and he was remanded to Niagara County Jail.

City resident Allen J. Schmitt told Lockport police he was shot in the face after he broke up a fight during a late night card game at Munt's house at 222 West Ave.

Schmitt said he restrained Munt during the fight and, as he was leaving, Munt went inside and got the gun and shot him. Schmitt was treated at Eastern Niagara Hospital of Lockport for a scratched cornea in his left eye.

According to Schmitt, Munt obtained the illegal weapon from an overseas vendor, police reported.

After the incident, police questioned Munt at his home, where he told officers he used a can of pepper spray in self-defense. Following a search of Munt's home, officers found the weapon and took him into custody, police said.

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Tonawanda man killed by train while hunting

MAYVILLE -- A Town of Tonawanda man was killed Tuesday morning when he was hit by a train while rabbit hunting in the Town of Portland, Chautauqua County sheriff's deputies reported.

Deputies said Giovanni Faso, 67, was among a group of five people who were hunting in brush near the railroad tracks off East Forest Avenue. Faso and another hunter were along the north side of the tracks when a freight train approached from the east.

The train was sounding its horn, deputies were told, and Faso's hunting companion -- who was west of the victim -- reportedly yelled to him a number of times to get farther from the tracks.

Faso was hit by the train and thrown into brush approximately 30 feet away, deputies said. He was pronounced dead at the scene by county Coroner Richard Mackowiak; an autopsy will be performed by the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office.

An investigation continues, deputies said, but it's believed that Faso thought he was far enough from the tracks that the train wouldn't hit him.

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Motorist taking shortcut faces DWI, other charges

LOCKPORT -- A Lincoln Avenue man who decided to cut through the Barry Steel Plant parking lot ran into a city police officer on patrol Tuesday morning and now faces a number of charges, including driving while intoxicated.

Donald J. Frey, 36, was stopped at 3:40 a.m. on Ohio Street behind the plant. Frey appeared intoxicated and gave an officer an incorrect address, later admitting he gave incorrect information because his license had been suspended, police said.

In addition to DWI, Frey was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to signal, second-degree criminal impersonation and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police said they found prescription pills that were not prescribed to Frey.

He was additionally charged with having an alcoholic beverage in his vehicle after police said they found a plastic cup with alcohol in the vehicle.

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Woman suspected in rash postal vehicle vandalism

NIAGARA FALLS -- Police say that a woman who is harassing postal workers, accusing them of tampering with her mail, may be linked to a rash of car vandalisms of postal vehicles and postal workers' personal vehicles in and around the Main Street post office during the past few months.

City police said Monday that they received reports from at least six people who have complained of vehicle vandalism. In some cases, they have been the victim of multiple attacks. In most cases, tires were flattened by a screw or some type of metal that appears to have been deliberately placed in the tire. Damage was $200 or more to replace each tire.

One woman told police that in November and again around Christmas someone stuck a nail in her vehicle's tire. Another woman told police that her vehicle has had the tires flattened three times since Jan. 12. In the most recent case, she saw the suspected woman near her car with a crowbar and found her tire flattened and scratches on the driver's side window and on the rubber.

An investigation into the vandalism is continuing.

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More prison time likely over threatening letters

LOCKPORT -- A man already serving seven years in prison for stabbing his brother and burglarizing his ex-wife's home will have his prison term extended for writing threatening letters to the woman in June and July 2010.

Michael J. Bentley, 53, formerly of Ward Road, Wheatfield, admitted Tuesday to two counts of first-degree criminal contempt of court. State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. scheduled sentencing March 30 and could add as long as four years to Bentley's prison time.

In another case Tuesday, Kloch sentenced Robert B. Johnson, 43, of Raintree Island, Town of Tonawanda, to one to three years in prison for felony driving while intoxicated. Johnson was arrested twice last year in North Tonawanda.