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Aaron Besecker

Aaron Besecker is a member of The Buffalo News' breaking news and criminal justice team. He has been a News staff reporter since 2007.


Crime

Four vehicles in separate locations in Niagara Falls were apparently set on fire over a roughly 24-hour period, according to police reports. A woman told police someone torched her car between midnight and 2:30 a.m. Tuesday on Cudaback Avenue near 17th Street. The vehicle had what looked like burn marks near the gas tank and a piece of a burned rag was found nearby, acc…

Crime

A man with a knife was no match for a woman in Niagara Falls whose words were her weapons. The woman told police she had just gotten off a bus Tuesday afternoon near Lockport Street and Ontario Avenue when she saw a man "aggressively" walking towards her. The 51-year-old victim – a Buffalo resident who was in the Falls because she was looking to move there – told office…

Crime

Two Hertel Avenue bars reported burglaries within an hour of each other early Tuesday morning, according to Buffalo police reports. At about 5 a.m., officers responded to an alarm at Geckos, 1464 Hertel, and found an open front window. A computer had been pulled from the wall and several alcohol bottles were smashed, according to a report. It was unknown at the time of …

Crime

A 50-year-old man accused of killing his wife strangled her to death, the Erie County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday morning. Jose Ruiz Jr. was arraigned on a charge of first-degree manslaughter Tuesday in Tonawanda Town Court. Ruiz was taken into custody late Monday after the body of his wife, Mavilie Ruiz, 59, was found in their Town of Tonawanda home. …

Courts

At the end of January, Travis J. Green was taking his medication and deemed mentally fit by doctors to proceed toward his criminal trial in Erie County Court. But since that time, the man accused of firing close to 20 rounds and injuring a man in a shooting outside a Dollar General in Cheektowaga in November 2017 has refused to take his medication at the Erie County Hol…

Cheektowaga

That day had all the makings of a tragedy. A gunman came equipped with two high-powered rifles, more than 800 rounds of ammunition and body armor. Afterward, the police chief called it "a miracle" he wasn't reading off the names of the dead. Instead, on that afternoon outside a Dollar General store in Cheektowaga, two civilians interrupted the barrage of bullets a…

Courts

The Buffalo man accused of driving his car into a West Chippewa Street nightclub in August now faces attempted murder charges, the Erie County District Attorney's Office said. Najeeb Shabazz Jackson, 25, was arraigned Friday in Erie County Court after being indicted by a grand jury for the incident Aug. 4 at Bottoms Up, prosecutors said. Police previously said Jackso…

Courts

An 87-year-old woman was sentenced Friday to a three-year conditional discharge after she admitted to fraudulently receiving more than $250,000 in Social Security and food stamp benefits, according to the Erie County District Attorney's Office. Ann Cliett, who also went by the name Annie Miles, admitted she began collecting Social Security benefits under two different n…

Crime

Pendleton Highway Superintendent Jeffrey R. Stowell was charged Friday with stealing 72 tons of town-owned paving material for use at his home and having town employees work on his personal equipment on town time. Stowell's attorney, George V.C. Muscato, said Stowell is building a new home for himself on Campbell Boulevard, but denied the charges. "I'm not acknowledg…

Courts

Three Buffalo teens who tried to attend a 16-year-old girl’s birthday party at the North Buffalo Community Center in March each ended up getting shot twice that night. Seventeen-year-old Deron Allen never made it home again. Now, 19-year-old Josue Bermudez faces up to 75 years to life in prison after he was convicted Wednesday on murder, attempted murder and weapons cha…

Courts

A 17-year-old charged with killing a youth football coach and shooting two other people in Buffalo this summer has been no stranger to police. Jason L. Washington Jr., who faces 17 felony charges in connection with three separate incidents since the beginning of August, has had contact with police since at least the age of 11, some of them involving violent incidents, a…

Courts

Mike Shatzel, the owner of Coles, one of Buffalo's most venerable bar/restaurants, is recovering from injuries he suffered when he was stabbed over the weekend. But the attack seems to have had little effect on Shatzel's sense of humor. Police said Shatzel was stabbed Sunday afternoon in the Elmwood Avenue restaurant by a worker he just fired. John R. Luper III, 2…

Crime

The Buffalo Bills didn't play Sunday, but the team was apparently on the mind of a vandal in the Elmwood Village. Someone spray-painted a not-so-nice message about the team on a car on Ashland Avenue, police were told Sunday. The vandal also damaged both the front and rear windshields of the vehicle, which was parked near an apartment building on Ashland, near Summer…

Business

A dozen customers lined up in front of the register at the TreeHouse Toy Store on Elmwood Avenue about 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Four employees stood behind the counter collecting payments and wrapping purchases, as holiday music filled the air. The smiling store owner watched from the the back of the shop on this Small Business Saturday. "It's working," said David Sch…

Crime

A vehicle with six people inside – including four children — was struck by gunfire Friday night, according to a Buffalo police report. The shooting happened at 10:25 p.m. on Erb Street, between East Delavan and Lang avenues. No one inside the vehicle was shot, but one of the children suffered cuts from broken glass, according to police. The report did not include the…