Niagara Gazette

January 24, 2014

Armed robbery suspects caught by increased patrols in Pine Avenue business district

Armed robbery suspects caught by increased patrols in Pine Avenue business district

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Falls Police have charged two men in the attempted robbery of a Portage Road business.

Investigators said the men, wearing masks, entered Universal Check Cashing, in the 700 block of Portage Road around 1:20 p.m. Thursday. 

“One was wearing a ‘Scream’ style mask and the other had a clown mask,” Detective Lt. Mike Trane said. “They were armed with a handgun and demanded money.”

However, the store clerk was working behind a barrier of bullet-proof glass and refused to give the robbers any money. When the clerk went to call the cops, the suspects ran from the business. 

They jumped into an SUV that they had stolen just a few minutes before attempting the robbery. It had been left running and unattended in an area near the crime scene.

As the suspects attempted to flee, they appeared to lose control of the vehicle and crashed into a parked car near Ninth Street and Pine Avenue. The would-be robbers ran from there and then contacted another suspect to pick them up in the 500 block of Ninth Street.

“Patrol officers and undercover officers were working in that area and they were able to observe the get-away car,” Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said. “They were the able to stop the suspects.”

DalPorto said the officers were in the area as part of a stepped-up police presence in the Pine Avenue business district.

“We’ve really been focusing on that area,” he said. “And we’ve increased the number of both the patrol and undercover officers there. That will continue.”

Trane said the gun used by the suspects was recovered. It was reported stolen from Lockport in 2003. 

Police charged Cortez M. McClain, 22, 1508 Cleveland Ave., and Marcus D. Hamilton, Jr., 23, 2110 North Ave., with attempted first-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery, second-degree menacing and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. They were also charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal mischief in connection with the stolen SUV.

Investigators said the suspects do not appear to be tied to any of the other recent robberies across Niagara County.