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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Documents returned to East Niagara Post this afternoon after a Freedom of Information request include case supplemental narrative report's by Officer Thomas Gmerek, Lt. Marshall Belling, and Officer Matthew Streckwald.

The LPD officers and lieutenant each offer a unique point of view on the case Saturday when Belling and Officer Michael Wasik shot and killed a dog on South Street.

The FOIL request did not return a case supplemental narrative report from Wasik, who was reportedly the officer first attacked by the dog and who tried to use mace before drawing his gun on the eight-year-old pit bull named Junior.

Belling's report is the longest of the three and provides the fullest account of the ordeal from when he and Wasik arrived on scene until he left. It can be read in its entirety below.

Officers Gmerek and Streckwald offer their accounts from when they arrived on scene, after Belling had requested backup and an ambulance of the police radio. Their accounts can also be found below.


Officer Thomas Gmerek:

Lt. Marshall Belling (page 1): 

Lt. Marshall Belling (page 2): 

Officer Matthew Streckewald: 

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HARTLAND — A Medina man is in critical condition after a one-vehicle crash in the 9400 block of Ridge Road shortly after 5 p.m.

Steven R. Churchfield, 48, was taken to Erie County Medical Center this evening via Mercy Flight after the crash, in which Niagara County Sheriff's officials determined his vehicle was eastbound on Ridge Road when he failed to negotiate a curve in the road. The vehicle traveled onto the south shoulder striking a utility pole severing the pole in half. The vehicle continued off the road where it overturned coming to rest in a field.

Churchfield is currently listed in serious condition at E.C.M.C.

The accident is currently being investigated by Niagara County Sheriff's Office Accident Investigation Unit where charges are pending.

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The owner of the dog killed by Lockport police on Saturday had told LPD that "the dog doesn't like people in uniform. It doesn't like cops or even the postman," according to city records received this afternoon from East Niagara Post through a Freedom of Information request.

Police Chief Larry Eggert had said Sunday that the dog, known as Junior, had bitten another police officer prior to the incident Saturday in which the dog bit two police officers before it was shot and killed by LPD during what was to be a response to a trespassing complaint.

That previous incident happened March 22, 2012 when Officer Eric Morgan responded to 326 South Street to serve a subpoena.
Patrol knocked on the door and a male stepped out on the porch and was identified as Mr. (Raul) Desantiago," an interview report from the time states. "As patrol was issuing the paperwork, a large pitbull came out of the residence and forced his way past Mr. Desantiago."

"The dog stopped for a moment and looked at patrol. As patrol stepped backward to create distance from the animal, it lunged up at patrol and bit into patrol's vest locking onto the medical pack in the outside carrier. The dog began to shake his head and locked down on the vest."

"Patrol began striking the dog in the face with a closed fist and Mr. Desantiago began pulling at the animal to get him to release."

"The dog was eventually pulled off and secured in the house."

"Mr Desantiago went and got the animal's owner who was identified as Zachary Smith (dob 06/02/1972). When patrol advised Mr. Smith what had taken place, his response was 'The dog doesn't like people in uniform. It doesn't like cops or even the postman.' "
A court ruling declaring Junior a "dangerous dog" was one of nine documents received by 
East Niagara Post today as part of a FOIL request into the history of the dog and LPD. (ENP 
Junior was seized at the time time by Lockport's Dog Control Officer Joannie Black pending a dangerous dog complaint hearing in City Court.

That hearing was held March 27, 2012. City Court Judge Thomas DiMillo ruled that the dog was, in fact, dangerous and ordered Smith to:
  1. Restrain the dog by fence or leash necessary to insure the animal remains on the respondent's premises.
  2. When on public premises the animal shall be leashed and muzzled. The leashed animal shall be in the control of an adult. 
Smith was told that any violation of the order would result in his being charged with criminal contempt. 

Further documents reveal that Junior bit a man in 2010.

The complainant, Kevin J. Horton, 77 Main St., had told patrol that he was "walking down Washburn Street when a medium sized dog ran up and bit him. Mr. Horton attempted to pet the dog when it bit his left arm. Mr. Horton struck the dog several times before it let go of his arm and ran away. Mr. Horton has never seen the dog before nor could he remember where the dog ran to, its breed, or the color of it."

Horton later changed his story, saying that he had shown up to Smith's house — who he referred to as a friend — "wearing a ski mask and the dog started barking at him and then bit him."

Another complaint filed against the animal — this one on Oct. 27, 2013 — states that the landlord of 335 South St., told police that "his tenant at 335 South Street has a pit bull there and has conducted dog fights. He stated that he advised the tenant to get rid of the dog as the dog is not the tenant's and is not supposed to be there."

Patrol went to 335 South St. at the time but did not see Junior on the premises.

"Patrol did speak with Mr. Smith who stated that the dog did have scratches from another dog but not from dog fights conducted by him," the complaint states.

No charges appear to have been filed at the time.

Another document — a bill from Grand Island Small Animal Hospital, 2323 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island — shows that the dog was billed Monday for an autopsy of the dog. The original bill was for $993.21, which included cremation/burial, but a revised bill without cremation/burial totaled $744.86.

Results of the autopsy were not included in the documents received.

RELATED: Documents received from the Freedom of Information request included police narratives. Read them later word-for-word.

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BUFFALO — The Buffalo Sabres have assigned seven players to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

The following players have been assigned to Rochester: Forwards Joel Armia, Matt Ellis (pending waivers), and Tim Schaller; Defensemen Drew Bagnall (pending waivers) and Nick Petrecki; and goaltenders Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov.

The Sabres’ training camp roster is now at 31 players: 18 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goaltenders.

The Sabres next play the Washington Capitals in Buffalo at 7 p.m. Wednesday. It is their fifth of six pre-season games. The team is so far 2-2 on the pre-season.

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Jeannette B. Ossman passed away September 28, 2014 in Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center.

Born in Lockport on May 18, 1926 she was the daughter of Burton L. and Camille (Dobbertin) Bates. Jeannette was predeceased by her husband Donald C. Ossman in August 1999.  She is survived by her son James (Alvera) Ossman of Lockport; step-grandson Gary L. Thompson, II; four step great grandchildren.

Private graveside services were held at the convenience of the family.

Please visit to leave an online condolence to the family.

Lockport area gas prices fell two cents this week, according to AAA East Central’s weekly Fuel Gauge report, which states that the average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline, based on reports from 20 stations in the Lockport area, was $3.602, down from $3.625 last week and $3.675 this time last year.

The average price for unleaded regular gasoline in New York was $3.615.

Less than one week into the autumn driving season, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $3.333 per gallon, the lowest price since February, after falling for 21 of the past 24 days. Today’s average is fractions of a penny less than one week ago, 10 cents less than one month ago and seven cents less than one year ago.

Decreased demand, relatively lower crude prices and the cost savings associated with producing winter-blend fuel will likely keep downward pressure on the price for retail gasoline.  Barring any major disruptions in supply, drivers are expected to see some of the lowest autumn prices since 2010.

Motorists in every state and Washington, D.C., continue to pay less for retail gasoline than one month ago. Year-over-year comparisons reflect overall savings for nearly all consumers.

Geopolitical events remain front of mind for market watchers, but in recent months have not translated into upward pressure on global oil markets. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil did settle $1.03 higher at $94.57 per barrel at the close of Monday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, but prices remain near the 17-month low of $91.52 per barrel that was registered on September 22.

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LATHAM — Sergeant First Class Peter Harper from Appleton has reenlisted to continue service with the Company D (Forward Support Company Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition), 427th Brigade Support Battalion BSB.

Major General Patrick A. Murphy, the Adjutant General, announces the recent reenlistment of members of the New York Army National Guard in recognition of their continuing commitment to serve community, state and nation as part of the Army National Guard.

"The New York Army National Guard has sustained our force at or above 100 percent strength for the better part of five years now," Murphy said. "Keeping those ready forces in our ranks mean that New York is ready to provide forces for state missions here at home, as we saw during Hurricane Sandy or for the federal missions supporting our nation around the country and around the world."

"Each of our 16,000 men and women serving in the Army and Air National Guard as an important role and I'm pleased that so many continue to reenlist and remain part of our New York National Guard family."

For more information about the New York Army National Guard, visit

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Niagara County lawmakers reacted with outrage to news reports that the U.S. Forest Service will now require “commercial” photographers to obtain pricey permits to take pictures on lands they manage — lands owned by the nation’s citizens.

That plan has county legislators turning to the local Congressional delegation for answers — and action.

Legislator Randy Bradt's letter to Congressman
Brian Higgins. (CONTRIBUTED)
The new permit plan, set to come into effect in November, prompted an outcry late last week among media outlets concerned they would be charged for filming and photographing Forest Service-regulated lands. While county lawmakers agree with reporters outraged over the violation of the First Amendment — a stance the Forest Service has since backed away from — they say that charging so-called “commercial” photographers isn’t right, either.

“For the U.S. Forest Service to expect the citizens of this country to pay $1,500 to photograph the lands that they, as taxpayers own and pay to maintain, is an outrage,” said Legislator Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda, who wrote to U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, asking Congress to pressure the Administration to back away from the new policies.

“In essence, the federal government just said they own the image rights to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone—any federal land, they are ready to charge you an exorbitant fee, or fine you $1,000, if you dare to photograph the land you pay taxes to maintain,” Bradt said Monday.  “And the most obscene part—you, the taxpayers, own the land!”

Legislator Rick Updegrove's letter to Congressman
Chris Collins. (CONTRIBUTED)
Bradt and Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, who wrote a similar letter to U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, said they were fed up with government overreach of the type the policy represented. The full membership of the Legislature’s Majority Caucus signed on to the two letters, urging their members of Congress to investigate the matter and block the bureaucratic directive.

“The entire majority caucus opposes the U.S. Forest Service in this matter,” Bradt said.  “This is a ludicrous policy.  We are asking our Congressional delegation to look into it and try to prevent the Administration from moving forward with it.”

Bradt and Updegrove noted that the Legislature had long supported small business, and that policies targeting commercial photographers photographing nature and requiring them to pay to photograph land that they, as taxpaying U.S. citizens, owned, was wrong.

“This is an assault on small business,” Bradt said.  “We have art galleries in North Tonawanda and Lockport whose artists rely on deriving income from taking pictures of nature’s beauty.  This hurts them.”

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NORTH TONAWANDA — Robert Ortt, mayor of North Tonawanda, announced this morning that he has received the support from Unshackle Upstate in his campaign for the New York State Senate in the 62nd Senate District.

Unshackle Upstate describes itself as a bipartisan organization of over 80 businesses and trade organizations across Upstate New York that advocates for reform in Albany to create a better environment for small business and job creation.

“Rob Ortt’s entire life has been about service – service to his country and service to his community. He is a proven leader who will deliver for Western New York taxpayers and be a strong voice in Albany for real reform, job creation and responsible government,” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “Unshackle Upstate and its partners are proud to support Rob Ortt for State Senate.”

“As I have traveled the district talking to families and small business owners, I have heard the same thing – too many people are struggling to find good paying jobs, children are leaving the area and small businesses are being strangled by taxes and regulations. We need real reform in Albany, so area businesses can grow and create good paying jobs in our community,” said Ortt. “I am proud to have the endorsement of Unshackle Upstate, and I look forward to working with them as State Senator to fix Albany, and make sure people have the opportunity to succeed right here at home.”

In addition to Unshackle Upstate, Ortt has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Ortt is the endorsed Republican, Conservative and Independence party candidate. He will face Democrat Johnny Destino and Working Families Party candidate Paul Brown in the November election.

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Jason A. Kozakowski, 31, 35 Progressive Ave., Buffalo, was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment around 9:20 a.m. Monday. According to his arrest report, Kozakowski made threatening remarks to a woman. He was to be in City Court Monday morning.

Angela Y. Porter, 25, 433 Pleasant View Dr., Lancaster, was charged with second-degree criminal impersonation, second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to signal and an equipment violation around 3:45 a.m. Monday. According to her arrest report, Porter was stopped by patrol and initially gave a false name. She was slated for City Court on Monday.

Corey J. Hemmer, 28, 121 Main St., Apt. A, Elba, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance around 3:45 a.m. Monday. According to the LPD arrest report, Hemmer was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped. When he exited the vehicle, a small baggy containing four orange pills fell out of his pocket, landing next to the seat. When police asked if he had weapons, he said he had marijuana in his right pocket. He was slated to be in City Court on Monday to answer to the charges.

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SANBORN — The Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a debate between candidates for the 62nd District seat of the New York State Senate, formerly held by state Sen. George Maziarz, at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 in the theater of the Arts and Media building at Niagara County Community College, 3111 Saunders Settlement Road.

It will be moderated by Megan Rossman, a reporter for YNN News.

In this format, candidates will be asked questions by the moderator with a set time to respond and a rebuttal from the opposing candidate. Candidates of the 62nd include North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt, Niagara Falls businessman Johnny Destino and North Tonawanda businessman Paul Brown.

The event is open to the public, although questions will not be taken from the audience. The Niagara USA Chamber asks that spectators arrive at least one half hour before the debate begins.

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The National Weather Service calls for a 30 percent chance of showers this afternoon, otherwise partly sunny with a high near 71 and a low around 54.

Wednesday, more showers are possible with a high near 70 and a low around 56. Thursday will be mostly sunny with a high near 76 and a low around 63. Friday, showers are likely after noon with a high near 77 and a low around 48.

Saturday, there's a chance of showers with a high near 57 and a low around 42. Sunday will be partly sunny with a high near 57 and a low around 45. Monday, there's more rain possible with a high near 63.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

HARTLAND — An unidentified male is in serious condition at Erie County Medical Center after a one-vehicle accident on Ridge Road this evening.

According to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, the man's vehicle was eastbound on Ridge Road shortly after 5 p.m. when it failed to negotiate a curve in the road. The vehicle traveled onto the south shoulder striking a utility pole severing the pole in half. The vehicle continued off the road where it overturned coming to rest in a field.

The driver was transported by Mercy Flight to E.C.M.C. for treatment of his injuries. There were no passengers in the vehicle.

The accident is currently being investigated by Niagara County Sheriff's Office Accident Investigation Unit where charges are pending.

The name of the male driver is not being released at this time.

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Petty Officer 1st Class Jean Coriat is a ship serviceman aboard USS Essex. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Contributed to ENP

SAN DIEGO — A Lockport High School graduate and Lockport native is serving aboard USS Essex (LHD 2), the largest of all amphibious warfare ships and resembles a small aircraft carrier.

USS Essex (LHD 2) is fifth ship to bear the name Essex. It is named after a town and county in Massachusetts which is significant because of the tie in with the people of Essex County in 1798 and the building of the first USS Essex.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jean Coriat is a ship serviceman aboard the San Diego-based WASP-class amphibious assault ship that is nearly as long as 3 football fields at 844 feet. The ship is 106 feet wide and weighs more than 40,650 tons.  Two geared steam turbine engines can push the ship through the water at more than 24 mph.

As a 29 year-old with numerous responsibilities, Coriat said she joined the Navy to get out of her small town and her family couldn’t afford to send her to out of state college. “I knew I was going to join the Peace Corp or the Navy. I didn’t tell anyone before I joined."

She also said she is proud of the work she is doing as part of the Essex’s 1,200-member crew, protecting and defending America on the world’s oceans. “In my job we purchase and provide the laundry, barber shops, ships store and starbucks on board,” Coriat explained.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS Essex. Approximately 73 officers, 1,109 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the engines. Another 1,800 or so form the Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Essex is capable of transporting the MEU and landing them in hostile territory via landing craft or helicopters.

“USS Essex is truly a fine warship and the crew that mans her is second to none,” said Capt. Peter Mantz, the ship’s commanding officer. “The sailors and Marines of Essex have been working diligently to prepare this warship, and I feel an unparalleled sense of pride working alongside our nation’s finest sailors and Marines.”

The principle mission of Essex is to conduct prompt, sustained operations at sea, primarily as the centerpiece and flagship of the Amphibious Ready Group. Essex provide the means to transport, deploy, command and support all elements of a Marine landing force of over 1,800 troops during an assault by air and amphibious craft.

Designed to be versatile, Essex has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to also support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s largest amphibious assault ships, Coriat and other Essex sailors are proud to part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.

“I definitely want to stay for 20 years,” said Coriat. “I’m very proud of serving my country. I am happy with my decision. Sometimes getting out of my comfort zone is a good thing .”

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James Shaw, DDS, Camille Granchelli, Mallory Haas and Nick Granchelli in 
a retro photo that illustrates what ticket holders anticipate from the Oct. 17 
Cocktails & CA$H event to be held at Terry’s Corners Volunteer Fire 
Niagara Hospice will hold its 24th annual Cocktails and CA$H at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at Terry’s Corners Volunteer Fire Company on Chestnut Ridge Road in Gasport.

Cocktails and CA$H is presented by the Niagara Hospice board of directors. The event is highlighted on the calendars of regular guests every year, each wondering if they will be the holder of the ticket for the grand prize of $5,000.

 “We look forward to this event each year,” says James Shaw, DDS and Niagara Hospice Board Treasurer. “The anticipation drawing up to the end of the evening when there are just three numbers left to be drawn makes for a fun night! There’s something for everyone – all accompanied by a great meal catered by Donna Eick.” Shaw said all proceeds of the event directly benefit the charitable work of Niagara Hospice.

Tickets are $100, including dinner for two, drinks and one entry to win one of 13 different cash prizes of up to $5000. Event coordinator Mandy Raff stated that winners need not be present to win a cash prize and that chances of winning are excellent as only 300 tickets will be sold.

The event also includes wine for every table by Black Willow Winery, a huge basket raffle, 50/50 splits, and the Niagara Hospice Wheel of Prizes. Additionally, someone will walk away with a magnificent diamond donated by George Fritz of Mills Jewelers.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the events page at or by calling Raff at 280-0766.

Hospice is a way of caring for patients with end-of-life illnesses and supporting their family and loved ones through the illness, dying and grieving process. Niagara Hospice has provided end-of-life care since 1988 and is the only hospice provider in Niagara County. Certified Medicare hospice providers have become known as the Gold Standard of end of life care. Niagara Hospice is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) and care is a fully covered Medicare benefit. Call 439-4417 or visit to learn more.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT — The LaFarge stone quarry at Saunders Settlement Road and the William Gregory Bypass will be the set for an upcoming military film to be shot Wednesday.

According to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, filming will commence at approximately 2 p.m. on Wednesday and will go until approximately 3 a.m. Thursday.

"Since this is a military movie, there is a strong possibility of military vehicles, simulated gunfire and small explosions during this time," according to a press release from the Sheriff's Office. "All special effects will be conducted by using props by trained professionals and, therefore, there will be no danger to anyone in the surrounding area."

Previous film shoots in East Niagara — including Sharknado 2, part of which was filmed in the Lockport Caves and Underground Boat Rides in early april — have been kept quiet until after they completed, but NCSO provided an early notice "to prevent any public alarm to the local residents."

The name of the movie or further details have not yet been released.

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APPLETON — The Niagara County Sheriff's Office has released the names from a fatal head-on crash which occurred in the 6700 block of Lake Road early this morning.

Investigation indicates that the westbound car, driven by 50-year-old Georgia Vaughn of Olcott crossed the center line for unknown reasons into the path of an eastbound vehicle operated by Barbara Barnes, 51, of Newfane.

Vaughn was declared deceased on the scene and Barnes was transported to Eastern-Niagara Hospital in Newfane where she died a short time later. A dog in Vaughn's vehicle also died on the scene.

Barnes was a teacher at Wise Intermediate/Middle School in Medina. The Medina school district released a statement on her passing. It follows below in its entirety:
Those of us at the Medina Central School District grieve with the entire community over the tragic accident this morning that claimed the life of one our one of our teachers, Mrs. Barbara Barnes. Mrs. Barnes was a long-time teacher at Wise Intermediate/Middle School. She was beloved by students and staff and was extremely dedicated to her students. We ask that you please keep the Barnes family in your thoughts and prayers. On behalf of our school community, I want to thank everyone for their support of our students and faculty, as they are also struggling with tremendous sorrow.

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Three police agencies in East Niagara pursued a black motorcycle at high speeds through Middleport, Gasport and Lockport before losing the bike west of the city of Lockport early Sunday morning.

The chase originated around 12:15 a.m. in Middleport, according to Niagara County Undersheriff Michael Filicetti. NCSO got involved in the case, which then came through Gasport and the City of Lockport.

By the time LPD joined the pursuit, the bike was already headed out of the city.

"The motorcycle started comingthrough the city on the east side of the city," Det. Lt. Todd Chenez said. "Our guys saw the motorcycle ... at Prospect and West Avenue and they proceeded westbound out of the city."

The city gave up chase once it left their jurisdiction. Everyone else gave up chase shortly thereafter.

"It was such a high rate of speed that the chase was terminated in the area of 31 and Upper Mountain Road," Filicetti said.

It's unknown exactly how fast the bike was going, but some observers to the scene put it in the 100 mile per hour range.

Niagara County does not have a "no chase" policy on high speed pursuits, Filicetti said. "It's evaluated on a case-by-case basis." What's acceptable at midnight on rural roads may be completely different than what the department would do at 5 p.m. in the city, he said.

It is unknown why the pursuit started. A call to Middleport PD was not returned this afternoon.

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It was 25 years ago this year that Batman was first unleashed onto the world. In 1989, director Tim Burton brought his version of the Caped Crusader to life with Michael Keaton playing the dual role of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Prior to this movie, the only time we had seen Batman in a full-length feature film was the cheesy 1966 movie that starred Adam West. Sure, we all love watching West’s Batman cruising around fighting crime, but that was hardly a proper Batman movie.

There was a lot of hype for this movie and rightfully so. Batman had never been given a big screen treatment and Tim Burton already had a reputation for being an expert with over-the-top visuals. Everyone was hoping for another Beetlejuice when it was announced that Burton would direct Batman, but the end result was much different.

Anyone who has read the Batman comics knew Batman’s origin story. But Burton presented it so well that his has become the yardstick by which all other Batman origin stories are measured. The entire movie, from the beginning to the end, has this dark hue that is impossible to ignore. Burton would use that hue again in Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood. It became his calling card because no one else knew how to get that look. Because of Burton’s efforts, the idea of bringing Batman to the silver screen suddenly became in demand and it still has not gone away.

When I first saw this film, I was immediately impressed with Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Burton decided to give the Joker a backstory, which wound up being a hybrid of a couple of Joker backstories from the comic books. As a Batman fan, I was never comfortable with a Joker backstory. I didn’t want to know who the Joker was, which is why I prefer Christopher Nolan’s Joker to Burton’s. But what makes the Joker work in Batman is Jack Nicholson.

I honestly believed in 1989, and to an extent I still believe, that Jack Nicholson deserved an Oscar for his role. Why? Because he took the unassuming Jack Napier and turned him into a raving lunatic. The transition was masterful and Nicholson’s little touches here and there made it believable. Well, as believable as anything can be in a Tim Burton universe.

I was not a big fan of Prince doing the soundtrack for this movie and, 25 years later, I am still not a big fan of Prince doing the soundtrack for this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Prince’s music. But this movie needed a psychotic genius to generate its score and Prince is simply a genius. Trent Reznor, Pink Floyd or even Metallica would have been interesting choices to do the soundtrack. Reznor would have been the best candidate to retain that cartoonish aspect that Burton slips into the movie, but avoids making a main part of the story.

The genius of this movie, from a Tim Burton perspective, is that it preserves the Batman comic book look that we all love, but it does not do it in a campy way. This movie is deep, philosophical and even terrifying in some spots. Nicholson’s uneasy but brilliant use of humor at the most inappropriate moments added to the charm of the movie. In the middle of a fight scene with Batman, the Joker throws on a pair of glasses and asks Batman if he would hit a guy with glasses. Of course, Batman does, but the Looney Tunes-ish joke was so inappropriate at that moment that it was perfect.

I did not have any problem when they announced that Michael Keaton would be Batman and I had no problem with it when the movie was over. Keaton was everything he was supposed to be, which made his performance brilliant as well. When he was Bruce Wayne, he was perplexed and off guard. When he was Batman, he was focused to the point where he could see nothing but the bad guys in front of him. Keaton played two different roles and he did it very well.

Burton was forced into making a sequel, which was not too bad. The Batman movies went way downhill after that, until Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale came along to save the franchise. But it all started with 1989’s Batman and the vision of Tim Burton. Even if you do not like Batman, this movie is one that you must see.

Rating:  4 ½ out of 5

George Root is a Lockport resident and Drive-in fanatic. As the drive-in winds down for the season, it is time to break out the classic blu-rays until the Drive-in opens in April 2015.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A Chestnut Drive man says he has no idea who shot up his Woodlands home early Sunday morning.

The man told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies that that there was a knock on the door around 12:16 a.m. Sunday and when he went to it, he saw standing outside that there were three black males with hoodies, one of whom was wearing a denim jacket. He told patrol that the other two were wearing dark clothing and he couldn't give a better description.

The homeowner says he didn't open the door, but rather asked another resident of the home if he was expecting anyone, to which he was told "no." As the homeowner was walking back towards the door from the kitchen, he saw unknown suspects walking along the trailer towards the road and heard several gunshots.

A female resident of the home told NCSO that she was sleeping on the couch and awoke to hearing what she thought was gun shots. She said there were children sleeping on the floor right in front of the television.

The male occupants of the trailer told patrol they have no idea who would of done this and have had no problems with anyone.

Patrol found several gun shot holes in the front of the trailer with one that hit the window that was open. There was several bullet holes in the walls inside the trailer, with one of the rounds hitting the television. Patrol found numerous .22 caliber rounds/casings in the driveway and roadway in front of the house.

The homeowner told patrol that another unusual incident took place Thursday morning. A well-dressed black male knocked on the door and when he answered, the male went to grab the door and was asking for some "bud." The homeowner said that he saw another male with a mask on down by his patio table at the time, but he was able to get the door closed.

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I felt the need to write this letter after the last Fire Board meeting.

At the Fire Board meeting, Assistant Chief Michael Seeloff submitted a letter signed by the fire department’s officers. The officers wanted to go on record as being opposed to the manning reduction and to notify the Fire Board that in their professional opinion we are operating at unsafe levels.

I take exception to Commissioner Robinson’s reaction to Assistant Chief Seeloff’s letter and the statements he made regarding our staffing. Commissioner Robinson had two primary reactions to AC Seeloff’s letter. The first was that the reduction to six-man minimum manning was not a substantial change from how we previously operated. The second was that it was after the fact and concerns should have been brought up before.

The reduction in manning is a huge change. While true that under our old system when the ambulance was on a call we had an initial response of six men, it would be disingenuous to equate that to a permanent minimum staffing of six. On an average day, the ambulance would be on calls maybe for four hours. That means that over 80 percent of the, time the response was nine men. In addition, the ambulance crew was available for firefighting usually in less than 15 minutes.

Actuals fires have rarely been responded to with six men and when it has occurred the ambulance crew rapidly arrived on scene, much sooner than call in firefighters or mutual aid could. The reduced effectiveness of six firefighters cannot be overstated, and anyone who claims this is an adequate response is uninformed, uneducated in firefighting or pursuing their own agenda and outright lying.

LFD recently had a garage fire at 26 Remick Pkwy. Medic 5 was on a call and the response was six men. Due to difficulty establishing water supply because of dead end water lines, the fire almost spread to the two adjoining houses. Six men were unable to rapidly establish water supply and control the fire. It was the rapid and fortuitous arrival of the ambulance crew that allowed the fire to be brought under control before igniting the neighboring homes. As it is, both houses did suffer exterior damage. If this had been a night with only
six men on duty, very likely this fire would have spread to the two houses. Feel free to drive by the site and see the proximity of the houses and damage.

Another hole in the argument that this isn’t a significant change is that LFD is still responding to ambulance calls but now with an engine. When at a minimum manning of six, that will leave only four men to respond to fire calls. It will also reduce the apparatus response to a single engine.

Another question asked at the meeting was why did the fire union not come earlier and speak against these changes. The Fire Board has not been operating in an open and transparent way. They generally fail to comply with the New York State Open Meetings Law and frequently go into executive session on topics that should be discussed openly. In addition there have been frequent changes to meeting times and only once has the fire union been invited to attend a meeting.  Additionally without prior knowledge of what action the mayor is requesting of the Board, we have no idea what topics to address and what potential changes to speak against. The Fire Board has also been under a ‘gag’ order to not speak to or accept written information from the fire union. We have, though, provided numerous reports and documents that should provide ample evidence that the cuts and changes made by the Board were not in the best interests of the taxpayers or firefighters.

The Fire Board has been asked to make changes and cuts by the administration in response to fiscal problems. These problems are the direct result of the politicians mismanagement not only of finances but of the opportunities to negotiate structural and contractual changes to reduce costs. The resulting "crisis" has been used as an excuse to pursue an agenda of cuts that has led to unsafe working conditions and a direct negative impact on public safety. In addition the Lockport Fire Department is providing manpower to subsidize a private company’s activities, further reducing our effectiveness.

As the Fire Board is solely responsible for the Fire Department, the ultimate fault rests on their shoulders. It is time for the Board to act as the independent body it should be and take action to address these unsafe
conditions before someone gets seriously hurt.  The board should demand serious negotiations to address fiscal issues instead of allowing temporary politicians to permanently undermine the safety of the citizens and employees of Lockport.

Kevin Watier is the secretary/treasurer of Lockport Fire Fighters Local 963.

East Niagara Post will publish letters to the editor on topics of concern to our readers. If you have an opinion on a matter, email it to Please include your full name, town of residence and a phone number for confirmation.


APPLETON — The Niagara County Sheriff's Office is investigating a fatal two-car crash that occurred this morning on Lake Road.

The head-on collision occurred shortly after 7 a.m. in the 6700 block of Lake Road.

According to a press release from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, "for unknown reasons, the westbound vehicle crossed over the center lane and struck the eastbound vehicle head on."

The female driver of the westbound vehicle was pronounced deceased at the scene along with a canine in the vehicle. The female driver of the eastbound vehicle was transported to Eastern Niagara Hospital-Newfane where she was pronounced deceased.

There were no other passengers in either vehicle.The investigation of this fatal accident is currently being handled by the Niagara County Accident Investigation Unit.

The names of both drivers are still being withheld.

NOTE: Story edited at 1:49 p.m. to include additional details provided by NCSO. 

UPDATE: Names released from fatal Appleton crash

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A Newfane man was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center Sunday night after being bitten by his own dog.

The 27-year-old was bitten on both wrists by the pit bull, which had bitten two other people on Sept. 15, according to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office.

The dog was removed from the man's apartment by the Niagara County SPCA and the Newfane Dog Warden.

Niagara County Undersheriff Michael Filicetti said he's not sure what is in store for the dog, which has now reportedly bitten three people — all of whom needed medical attention at ECMC — in less than two weeks.

"All I can say right now is we're following it up with the SPCA. The dog is in the custody of the SPCA," Filicetti said this afternoon by phone.

"At some point it could be deemed a dangerous dog," he said, but added that determination would be up to the SPCA.

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Arthur J. Knight
APPLETON — A 45-year-old Drake Settlement Road man stands accused of harassing a Newfane couple and breaking their cell phones during a disagreement Sunday afternoon.

According to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office report, Arthur J. Knight, 6805 Drake Settlement Road, was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree harassment (physical contact) following the altercation.

The couple told patrol that Knight asked the 71-year-old male half of the couple to go outside so they could talk. When the man declined, Knight got irate and began shoving him out the front door and then onto the ground, ripping his shirt and causing a cut to his forearm. The man further states that when he went to call 911, Knight grabbed his phone and threw it to the ground, smashing it.

The female half of the couple, 65, said she went out to check on her husband when Knight slammed the door in her face. She said when she did get outside, Knight grabbed and threw her cell phone, as well, and pushed her to the ground.

Knight, meanwhile, told patrol that the couple had refused to leave, which is why he pushed them out the door. He admitted to throwing and breaking their cell phones.

Knight was arraigned at the Town of Newfane Court for two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts second-degree harassment. He was remanded to the Niagara County Jail on $100 bail. He is due back in Town of Newfane Court on Oct. 7.

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GASPORT — A Hartland Road man told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies on Friday that someone stole two hunting bows, and various other archery equipment from his garage sometime last week.

The man said he discovered Thursday that there were two bows missing with all of the equipment, a camera that attaches to a bow was missing, and a tackle box containing all of his fishing equipment was missing from his locked garage. He said the total value of the stolen items was approximately $3,210.

According to the police report, the point of entry is unknown as there were no signs of forced entry. The complainant told patrol he does not know who may have done this. He said he will be installing a security system.

Patrol notified the Criminal Investigations Bureau of the incident.

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The skies will be mostly sunny today, according to the National Weather Service — with a high temperature of around 78 degrees. The overnight low will be around 55.

Tuesday, there's a chance of showers with a high near 71 and a low around 55. Wednesday, more showers are possible in the morning with a high near 71 and a low around 54. Thursday will be sunny with a high near 78 and a low around 62.

Friday, showers are likely with a high near 72 and a low around 48. Saturday, there's a chance of showers with a high near 58 and a low around 41. Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 58.

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ROCHESTER — The Lockport Express lost the tail end of a home-and-home to the Roc City Royals on Sunday.

Lockport's Jr. A hockey team fell 6-5 Sunday afternoon at Lakeshore arena to the team the had handily beaten 9-3 Saturday night at Niagara University's Dwyer Arena.

The Express next plays the Jersey Shore Wildcats Saturday evening at Dwyer Arena. They will play Roc City again on Oct. 18, expected to be the team's first game in Cornerstone Arena.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT — Two Lockport women told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies that their credit cards were used without there permission over the weekend.

A Windermere Road woman told patrol Saturday that a fraud monitoring company hired by her bank had told her that there may have been fraudulent charges on her Visa card. The charges were made on Friday at stores in Cheektowaga, Buffalo, Kenmore and Tonawanda.

Four of the charges totaled at $247.32. There were six others for an undetermined amount.

The case was turned over the to Criminal Investigations Bureau.

The second woman, who lives on Lincoln Avenue Extension, said she recently discovered money missing from her bank account. She said she noticed three fraudulent withdraws made Friday totaling $222.56 at a gas station in Deerborn, Mich.

The woman said her card has never been lost and was unsure how a person could obtain her card information. She told patrol she already contacted her bank to advise them of the fraudulent use and they told her to file a police report.

That case is closed pending new information.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

TORONTO — The home team came back from a two-goal deficit to win a pre-season game against a regional rival.

Unfortunately for Sabres fans, Buffalo was not the home team.

After a scoreless first period, the Sabres got on the board first, when Mikhail Grigorenko snapped a shot past Jonathan Bernier just 25 seconds into the second period. Nicolas Deslauriers made it 2-0 Sabres at 9:24 of the period. Phil Kessel made it 2-1 when he snapped one past Andrey Makarov just 59 seconds later.

In the third, James van Riemsdyk scored a power play goal for the Leafs at 9:49 of the period. That tied it at 2, where it remained through regulation — and overtime.

In the shoot out, van Riemsdyk scored on the Leafs first attempt. The Sabres first two shooters, Cody Hodgson and and Chris Stewart missed. As did the Leafs second and third shooters, William Nylander and Tyler Bozak. Grigorenko kept the Sabres' hopes alive, though, knotting it at 1 goal a piece in the shootout.

The Leafs fourth shooter, Nazem Kadri got it past Makarov. Joel Armia answered for the Sabres. Peter Holland then scored for the Leafs, leaving it to the Sabres' Torrey Mitchel to send it to a sixth round, but he failed to get it past Bernier, leaving the Leafs the victor.

The Sabres are now 2-2 on the pre-season with two games to go, next of which is Wednesday in Buffalo against the Washington Capitals.

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GASPORT — An East Avenue man told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies Saturday afternoon that his truck, which he had reported stolen Sept. 17, had been found.

The truck owner told patrol that a friend of his said he had seen the truck at 4540 Lincoln Dr. The truck owner then went to that address, located his truck in the parking lot, and contacted NCSO.

The truck was locked and the owner did not think anything was missing from it. The owner told patrol that a pair of jumper cables in the truck bed was not his and a placard covering the rear license plate was not his.

Patrol spoke with a woman who stated that she parks in the area of where the truck was and that it had been there since 7 a.m. Wednesday. Patrol observed cameras on the outside of the Absolute Care of Gasport and observed some pointing in the direction of the truck.

The truck was inventoried and towed.

The investigation continues.

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Jody Ann (Holmes) Sossong passed away under the care of Niagara Hospice.

Born in Kenmore, on October 30, 1953, she was the daughter of the late Joan (late Harold) Pernett Sink and the late Robert W. (Mary Ann of Daytona Beach) Holmes. Jody graduated from Lockport High School, Class of 1971, and from Beauty School. She worked as a Beautician, did in home Child Care and at Lancaster Speedway where she started in the office and ended up doing a number jobs while there.  She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Kenan Quilters, F.O.A.R. Score, Westview Ridge Association, FL., Hooligans Car Club and St. John the Baptist Church. Jody enjoyed sewing, quilting, cross stitch, car cruises, car racing and her Florida home in Haines City, Fl.

Beside her step mother, Jody is survived by her husband Donald Sossong of Lockport; mother of Renee (Shawn) Brady of Lockport and Donald (Suzie) Sossong of Punxsutawney, PA.; grandmother of Devin and Maura Brady.  Jody was the sister of Ross (Barb) Holmes, Bonnie Mack, Clifford (Terri) Holmes and Michael (Tina) Holmes, all of Lockport and Christopher Holmes of Daytona Beach, FL.  She is also survived by several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Friends may call Tuesday September 30, 2014, 2-4 and 6-9 in Prudden and Kandt Funeral Home, Inc., 242 Genesee Street, Lockport.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday October 1, 2014, in St. John the Baptist R.C. Church, 168 Chestnut Street, Lockport at 10 AM.  Memorials to Niagara Hospice, 4675 Sunset Drive, Lockport, NY 14094, would be appreciated by the family.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A Grasmere Road man told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies Saturday morning that someone damaged his car overnight. .

The man told patrol that when he woke up Saturday morning, he looked out his window to his car and noticed a dent in the hood. The man said his neighborhood is generally quite. He feels that the imprint of the dent on his car is from somebody sitting on the hood.

The complainant wanted a report to be on file in the event more instances of criminal mischief occurs in the area.

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A South Street man say police shot and killed his dog for no reason. LPD says
the shooting was warranted. (SCREEN SHOT FROM ENP FACEBOOK)
A South Street man said police officers shot and killed his dog Saturday afternoon "for protecting his family."

Lockport police, however, say that the man's dog left his property and attacked two officers.

Austin Smith said "a police officer kicked in a locked gate to look for squatters in the house next door" before shooting his dog, Junior, multiple times.

Different accounts of the incident say between five and nine shots were fired. Some say that shots struck a house across the street where children were playing.

Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert confirmed that officers killed the dog but said it was done out of self defense — and only after unsuccessfully using mace.

It all started at about 3:35 p.m. Saturday when Lt. Marshall Belling and Officer Mike Wasik arrived at a home on South Street east of Erie Street to confront a situation that neighbors had complained about. Police had been told that there were squatters in the home.

Officer Wasik went up the driveway and looked over a fence into the back yard while Belling went to the porch.

"In the neighboring yard on the one side was a big pit bull ... the next thing you know the dog crossed over into this abandoned property and charged at (Wasik)," Eggert said.

The dog went after the officer's face and tore up his bullet-proof vest, the chief said. After Wasik tried to subdue the dog with a spray, he used his gun, shooting the dog twice.

"We think he hit the dog both times," Eggert said. "We're doing an autopsy on the dog right now."

According to one neighbor who asked not to be identified, "We heard multiple shots fired in rapid succession. After making sure all our kids safe, we heard one more shot."

That one more shot came from Belling, who had run to Wasik's aid and then was attacked himself, Eggert said.

The police chief said the incident remains under investigation and many questions remain unanswered. Those questions include: how many shots were fired, where those shots landed, why the officers were attacked, and whether the dog may have had rabies.

"Any time a police officer's gun gets fired, we have to account for every round," Eggert said. "We're not 100 percent sure the number yet. A good possibility would be the five to seven range."

Some accounts say that bullets had gone into a home across the street, but Eggert says the evidence doesn't support that. "We examined three houses. One of their neighbors pointed out a house that they thought a round went into. We couldn't find any evidence of any rounds leaving the property."

"It's going to be a process. We're going to be working on this for quite a while," Eggert said. 

"From what I was told, it was an extremely quick and extremely violent attack by the dog," he said, adding that the same dog had attacked an officer a couple years ago.

One of the officers — although Eggert wouldn't say which — was treated and released from ENH-Lockport following the incident.

NOTE: Story edited at 6:51 p.m. to correct Lt. Marshall Belling's title.

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OLCOTT — An unknown person put large holes in the shrink wrap that Olcott Yacht Club used to winterize boats sometime Thursday or Friday.

According to a report filed by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, a representative for the yacht club said that boats that were wrapped on Thursday and kept at the corner of Lake and Van Buren streets were found damaged Friday night.

Patrol considers this case closed at this time pending new information.

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Organizers of the Winter Wonderland Project are asking the community to come out and help light up Lockport for the coming holiday season.

The group will hold a "Light it Up" party at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Second Presbyterian Church, 7l Van Buren St.

They're looking for volunteers to bright lights and decorations out of the upstairs storage of the church, test light strings, replace bulbs, assemble decorations and Christmas trees, and decorate the church.

Volunteers will be paid in feelings of tidings, joy, and hot dogs, as there will be free hot dogs and a bounce house at the party.

For more information, call 364-3607 or 531-2357.

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Earl L. Townsend
TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A Lockport man stopped by Niagara County Sheriff's deputies early Saturday morning was charged with DWI, driving without a license and speeding.

According to the NCSO report, Earl L. Townsend, 38, 253 Pine St., was pulled over on Tonawanda Creek Road. He was determined to be intoxicated and charged with DWI.

Patrol searched him and found a plastic bag containing a white powder substance in his left front jean pocket, which Townsend said was cocaine. A search of his vehicle revealed a open can of Labatt's beer under the passenger front seat, and a plastic cup in the center console which appeared to contain an alcoholic beverage.

A NYS DMV check showed that Townsend had a prior DWI conviction in 2010 out of the Town of Tonawanda.

He was taken to Niagara County Jail where bail was set at $250. He has a return court date of Oct. 9 in the Town of Lockport Court.

Further charges are pending.

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WRIGHTS CORNERS — Two teens were charged with shoplifting at Tops late Friday night.

According to the incident report, Niagara County Sheriff' deputies were called to Tops on Lockport-Olcott Road after a store employee said she had seen them "suspiciously walking around the store for a long period of time and she observed both of them place packages of Bic lighters into the front pockets of their jackets."

The pair were still inside of the store when patrol arrived. NCSO waited in the front lobby of the store for the two males to exit and then inquired if they had taken any items without paying. Patrol discovered the stolen items in the front pockets of their jacket. The items included a 2.64 oz can of Axe styling cream valued at $8.49, two packages of Bic lighters valued at $5.99 each, and an individually packaged slice of cheese cake valued at $2.29.

The one male, 16 years old, was issued a juvenile appearance ticket for petit larceny. He is slated to appear in Town of Newfane Court on Oct. 21. The other male, who was under the age of 16, was released to the custody of his step mother. He is scheduled to appear at the Lockport Probation Office.

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Joshua Bachman
TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A 26-year-old Gasport man is facing charges after Niagara County Sheriff's deputies say he gave police a fake name after they caught him driving with a suspended license Thursday night.

Joshua M. Bachman, 8430 Chestnut Ridge Road, was stopped in the parking lot of Walmart on South Transit Road. Bachman told patrol that his name was Nicholas A. Bachman and said he was born in 1994, but he could not provide identification.

Later patrol determined him to be Joshua Bachman and found that his driver's license came back suspended twice — once for failure to pay driver responsibility assessment and once for driving while intoxicated.

Patrol informed Bachman several time about the consequences of false personation, however he insisted his name was Nicholas A. Bachman. Patrol asked the male why he had a wallet full of Joshua Bachman's identification, he said he just has it. Only after patrol asked him to provide his social security number to help prove his identity, did he admit that he was, in fact, Joshua Bachman.

He was placed in custody for second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to install an interlock device and false personation. He was also issued a traffic ticket for a cracked windshield. He was transported to Niagara County Jail on $250 bail and is due in the Town of Lockport Court on Oct. 7.

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