Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 19, 2013

Car with Massachusetts plates prompts investigation on Elmwood Avenue

Car with Massachusetts plates prompts investigation on Elmwood Avenue

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — DalPorto said the two men, whom he described as being in their early 20s, told police they were traveling up to the Falls to take in the sights and visit some friends in the area. He said the vehicle was owned by the driver's father, a Massachusetts resident who had to be contacted by police for permission to search the vehicle. 

The driver is being charged with failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to use a turn signal. Both men were released by police, their belongings were returned and they were allowed to drive away from the scene in the Nissan.

Some early media reports suggested the two men detained by police were Russian nationals. In briefings with reporters throughout the day, DalPorto insisted the individuals were not Russian. He declined to comment on the specific citizenship of either individual. 

"Both parties and the father were cooperative through the whole event," DalPorto said. 

The events of the day drew dozens of onlookers to the intersection of 19th Street and Elmwood Avenue. The block where the vehicle was initially stopped by police was closed off to pedestrians and traffic throughout the day while the bomb squad conducted its investigation. Residents living on the block were told by police to remain inside their homes. On two occasions Friday morning, officers asked bystanders to move away from the intersection as a precaution. In the second warning, police demanded onlookers move over another block away from the scene to 20th Street. 

State Police Capt. Craig Hanesworth said the strong response from authorities was appropriate and necessary under the circumstances. 

"Any time you're involved in a situation like this, you have an abundance of caution," he said.

DalPorto agreed and praised the actions of the man who called police about the car. He also encouraged all residents to be on alert for suspicious activity, saying they should not hesitate to report unusual individuals or activities whenever they feel it is warranted. 

"The Air National Guard member did exactly what he was supposed to do," DalPorto said. "His instincts were right on."

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