Niagara Gazette

Crime

April 19, 2013

Car with Massachusetts plates prompts investigation on Elmwood Avenue

Car with Massachusetts plates prompts investigation on Elmwood Avenue

Niagara Gazette — A traffic stop involving two men driving a car with Massachusetts license plates touched off a scare Friday morning in the neighborhood surrounding the City Market in Niagara Falls. 

After a lengthy investigation involving city police, the New York State Bomb Disposal Unit, the FBI and several other agencies, law enforcement officials pronounced the area all clear early Friday afternoon.

The incident began around 8:30 a.m. when an Air National Guard member driving on the I-190 took notice of the black Nissan and thought the car's occupants looked suspicious. Police said the guardsman called 911 to alert authorities as he followed the vehicle on its way to the Falls. 

City patrol officers eventually pulled the car over on Elmwood Avenue, between 18th and 19th streets behind the City Market.

Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said the officers spotted what they considered to be "suspicious-looking" packages in the vehicle during the traffic stop. The two occupants of the vehicle were immediately taken in to custody for questioning and the New York State Police Bomb Squad was called to the scene.

By 9 a.m., the block of Elmwood Avenue was closed off as an investigation began.  

State Police used their bomb-detecting robotic device to examine the car. It removed several packages for further inspection.

"We couldn't see what was inside," DalPorto said during a press conference at around 1 p.m. following the close of the investigation. "Through the officers' observations, they felt they were suspicious." 

DalPorto and State Police Capt. Craig Hanesworth said the packages contained nothing potentially harmful, only papers and other personal items. 

"With recent events, we erred on the side of caution," DalPorto said, referring to the heightened awareness surrounding a pair of bombings earlier this week at the site of the Boston Marathon. "Safety is our No. 1 priority, to the citizens and the officers that responded." 

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