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Priest unhurt after robbers tie him up and rob South Buffalo rectory

Police arrested three men accused of tying up a priest in a South Buffalo rectory and stealing money and other items from a safe Friday night.

The robbery occurred just before 9 p.m. in the rectory of Our Lady of Charity Catholic Church, formerly St. Ambrose, on Ridgewood Road, Buffalo police said.

With at least one of the robbers armed with a knife, the bandits forced Monsignor David Lee to open the safe before tying him up and fleeing the scene, police said.

South District police arrested Duane E. Dalton, 24; Michael Rodriguez, 31; and Daniel Bernardi, 21; all of the same address on Harvey Place.

Police said they arrested two of the suspects immediately after the crime on Hopkins Street, while the third was apprehended about an hour later at his residence, South District Chief Thomas Moran said.

The three were charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a weapon.

Lee, who was not hurt during the robbery, according to the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, could not be reached to comment.

In a statement, Bishop Richard J. Malone said, “I give thanks to God that Monsignor Lee was uninjured and I am grateful to the Buffalo police officers of the South District who made quick work in apprehending the suspects. We will keep Monsignor Lee and the parishioners of Our Lady of Charity in our prayers.”