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Man arrested in robbery and attempted robbery in Tops parking lots

A 36-year-old Cheektowaga man has been charged in connection with a robbery and an attempted robbery in the parking lots of two Tops supermarkets on the same evening earlier this month, Cheektowaga and West Seneca police officials announced Thursday.

Christopher Gawel has been charged with first-degree robbery, attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny and criminal mischief, they said.

At 6:15 p.m. June 21, police said, Gawel held a knife to a 57-year-old woman’s throat in the parking lot of the Tops in the Thruway Plaza in Cheektowaga and took her purse. A short time later, he attempted to rob a 48-year-old Hamburg woman in the Tops parking lot on Harlem Road in West Seneca, police said.

Detectives with the two police departments followed up on several leads and identified Gawel as the suspect in both crimes. He was taken into custody Wednesday and is awaiting arraignment in Cheektowaga and West Seneca town courts.