On Tuesday, the Town of Tonawanda Police Department issued a press bulletin, including video clips, regarding a suspected robber that may have been part of a recent string of 11 armed robberies that have occurred in Tonawanda and neighboring parts of Western New York.
Early Wednesday morning, the list was extended to 12 after an incident that occurred less than a mile from the Town of Tonawanda Police Department headquarters.
Police said the predawn armed robbery of the Dash's Market at Colvin Boulevard and Highland Parkway had a "similar MO" and appeared to be linked to a recent rash of robberies over the last three weeks.
That modus operandi, according to police: The suspect was a white male, wearing a ski mask and a black hoodie; he showed a black handgun, demanded money and ran away.
"He demanded cash," Town of Tonawanda Lt. Thomas Haynes said, "and once he received it, he fled on foot."
Authorities say other related robberies have occurred in neighboring municipalities, so the Town of Tonawanda Police are working with the police departments from Kenmore, Amherst and Niagara Falls as well as the Niagara County Sheriff's Office.
"We'll all be looking for this person," Haynes said, noting that the Buffalo Police Department's K-9 unit assisted in Wednesday morning's investigation.
"The cooperation among all agencies has been good – better than good," Haynes said. "We always cooperate, whether its Niagara or Erie County, it's the Western New York area. That's always going to exist, and in a case like this it is certainly elevated – all hands on deck."
Police said no one was hurt in Wednesday's incident. No one was hurt in two Monday robberies, one in the morning and one in the evening, that also took place in the Town of Tonawanda. The first took place at 6:30 a.m. at the Sunoco APlus at Niagara Falls Boulevard and South Ellicott Creek Road. The second was shortly after 7:30 p.m. at the Red Apple at 4205 Delaware Ave.
Haynes said a list of the incidents that police believe to be related is not being released in order for investigators to continue their work in what he called an "ongoing and developing" investigation. He said it is "important to not release any information that will not compromise the ongoing investigation and allow the investigators to perform their follow-ups."
He also said that additional "images and/or video" of Wednesday's robbery may be made available after they are "reviewed for release to the general public."
The location of Wednesday's robbery occurred about 6:45 a.m. and less than a mile from the Town of Tonawanda police headquarters on Sheridan Drive. But Haynes said police are not reading anything special into the proximity of that crime.
“There are several ways to look at it," Haynes said of Wednesday's incident, "but to view it as someone thumbing their nose at us is not something that has entered my mind."
Kenmore West High School, which is on Highland Parkway, less than two-tenths of a mile from the Dash's Market at 1210 Colvin, went in to a lockout situation at 7:45 a.m., according to a message from the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District to parents.
A lockout, according to the New York State Education Department emergency guidelines, is "used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an imminent concern outside of the school."
Police said school officials were immediately notified about the incident and that "the scene and area around the school was secured by police."
Police ask that if anyone has any details about these robberies or if anyone can recognize the person in the video, call any of these agencies:
- Town of Tonawanda Police Criminal Investigation Bureau at 879-6633
- Niagara County Sheriff’s Department at 438-3327
- Kenmore Police Department at 875-4158
If a caller wishes to remain anonymous, the Town of Tonawanda Police Department’s confidential tip line is 879-6606.