Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 19, 2013

Hectic scene draws crowd

Niagara Gazette — Jason Conti came across a hectic scene as he was walking down Elmwood Avenue Friday morning.

Conti saw two men with their hands on a Niagara Falls Police Department cruiser as officers searched them. Conti and other onlookers were quickly moved away from the scene by police officers.

"They just pushed us back," Conti said. "It was kind of chaotic."

Conti saw police searching two men from Massachusetts whose vehicle was pulled over on Elmwood Avenue early Friday amid concerns about "suspicious" packages and heightened awareness in the wake of this week's bombings at the site of the Boston Marathon. 

The two visitors to the Falls were on a road trip that was scheduled to end with a visit to friends in the surrounding area, police said Friday afternoon. The black Nissan they were driving in became the subject of an investigation that occupied federal, state and local police agencies throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

Conti said the two men appeared to be cooperating with police when he saw them, an assessment consistent with statements from the authorities.

"They didn't resist at all from what I saw," Conti said.

Police described the two men as United States citizens in their early 20's, though they declined to identify the tourists. They were released after authorities spent hours searching through the car. In the end, the driver was charged with a pair of minor traffic violations.

Crowds gathered around the scene throughout the ordeal while police used a bomb detecting robotic device to sift through what turned out to be the tourists' personal belongings.

Charlene Harris was out walking her dog in the neighborhood when she came upon the site of the investigation. Like many others in the crowd earlier in the day, Harris said she was concerned given what had happened in Boston earlier in the week. 

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