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Would-be robber survives gauntlet of bricks, taxi and pursuit in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS – A man who tried to rob a Main Street gas station this week had to contend with more than just the officers called to catch him.

The suspect dodged a person throwing bricks, but couldn’t escape a taxi cab that struck him and momentarily pinned him in bushes.

A gas station employee and his friend foiled the robbery when they hid in the gas station’s employee bathroom.

Police eventually caught a man and charged him, but not until after he survived the gauntlet of the store employee, friends and a cabbie.

The robbery events started at about 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunoco at 502 Main St.

Wearing a camouflage hoodie, sunglasses and a mask covering the lower part of his face, the thief pointed a gun at an employee behind the register who was counting some money. The employee’s friend was with him behind the counter, according to a Niagara Falls police report.

When the thief demanded money, the pair backed away from the counter and headed for the employee bathroom. The thief tried to push his way into the restroom, but the employee and his friend managed to keep the door closed and the gunman out, according to the report.

When they emerged from the bathroom, the thief was gone. A frequent customer of the store was outside and told them the thief fled on a bicycle. The friend got into his taxi cab and followed the thief toward Third Street.

Two other men told police they saw the thief trying to get into one of their homes on Fourth Street, at the same time the store employee’s friend driving the cab showed up.

The cab driver told the men the thief had just tried to rob the gas station. The two men joined the chase.

A taxi cab hit the suspect on the 600 block of Seventh Street, though it was unclear from the report whether it was the friend’s cab or another taxi.

While the suspect was pinned in bushes, the man who threw bricks approached carrying another brick. That’s when the suspect pointed his gun at him, the man with the brick backed off and the suspect got up and ran away.

Police eventually caught up with the suspect at another location, which wasn’t listed in the police report.

Matthew W. Buck, 36, of Haeberle Avenue, was charged with second-degree attempted robbery and second-degree menacing.