The suspects who struck the M&T Bank in Elba yesterday may have thought they picked an easy mark, but they over looked a few details.
Most importantly, they didn't even know the area. They knew only one route to and from the Thruway and under estimated the response times of local law enforcement.
"They were totally out of their element," said Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster of the Sheriff's Office.
(LISTEN, MP3s: Full audio of interview with Chief Brewster, Part 1, Part 2)
They didn't even know the difference between a field and a wooded area.
"When we talked with them, it had to be explained that a field is an open area and that woods is where trees are," Brewster said.
Brewster said the suspects, once captured, were quite easy to deal with.
"They were cooperative," Brewster said. "They did tell us what was going on and why they did what they did and why they chose that location and who did what inside the bank."
At least two of the suspects have no prior record.
"I think people from outside the area naively believe that because we're out in the sticks that law enforcement isn't on the ball like they are in urban areas," Brewster said. "It turns out it was just the opposite. These guys chose a bank that was probably within two miles of the state police and sheriff's barracks."
All of the money was recovered, and the gun recovered was loaded and had a bullet in the chamber.
The quick response and eventual capture of all three suspects could send a message to other would-be criminals, Brewster said.
"The message is out there, you're probably going to get caught," Brewster said.
The attached photos are of a suspect possibly involved in the forgery and possession of stolen checks. These photos were taken on 06/12/09 and 06/13/09 at Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union. Anyone with information into the identity of this individual is asked to contact Det. Kevin Czora at 345-6311, or the Batavia Police Department at 345-6350.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman could take the case against yesterday's three Elba robbery suspects to the Grand Jury as early as Tuesday.
"It's a little early in the day to know for certain," Friendman said.
If he decides to seek an indictment, it could be returned as early as the same day. Without a grand jury indictment, the suspects are entitled to a pre-trial hearing within six days, a right each suspect could waive.
The public defender is currently meeting with the suspects and each will be assigned their own attorney, either a public defender or public-provided outside council, or they could retain private attorneys.
Friedman also praised the work of law enforcement yesterday.
"We're very pleased with the job the police agencies did in this case," Friedman said. "It was great to see it unfold. I think many times people when people come here here from other places, they think its easy to get away with ( in a small rural county) and that's often not the case."
Meanwhile, Scott DeSmit has more details about yesterday's robbery.
Inside the bank was a terrifying scene.
Two men, both brandishing handguns, their faces masked, entered the bank.
A third man waited in the vestibule, Genesee County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said.
"The two entered the bank and jumped over the counter at two tellers," Brewster said.
The men knocked the tellers to the floor, then made them get back up to open the drawers, holding the guns to their heads, he said.
The two went through the drawers, retrieved the money and fled.
There were no customers in the bank at the time, Brewster said.
Both guns were later recovered. One was a loaded semi-automatic. The other was found to be a Crossman BB-gun, Brewster said.
If the fate of town/city consolidation were to be judged by one meeting, the prospects are not good, especially from the Town of Batavia perspective.
The majority of speakers Thursday night said they were town residents. They spoke passionately of their opposition to consolidation, and their statements often elicited rousing applause from the audience.
Some 60 people attended the public forum held at Batavia High School last night.
Two themes emerged: The consolidation idea is something of a referendum on the decades-ago urban renewal in Downtown Batavia; and, a strong distrust of Albany.
"Keep in mind that the decisions that are made today will effect generations to come," said Gary Diegelman, a town resident. "Decisions that were made back in the '60s are still affecting us today like urban renewal downtown."
City resident and town land owner George Galliford sounded willing to entertain the notion of consolidation, but struck many skeptical notes.
"Being a progressive sounds very good," said Galliford. "I think people like to think of themselves as progressive. As somebody mentioned earlier at one time there were some progressives in Batavia, and they did urban renewal. There aren't a lot of people around today that would necessarily say that urban renewal and being progressive was a great thing for Batavia."
Barb Galliford questioned whether the state would continue to fund the new government agencies at the levels promised right now. If the consolidation took place, state grants to the new city (if a city form of government were chosen) would increase to $790,000, making up the bulk of an anticipated $1 million in "cost savings" for the new entity.
"And the money the state is saying they're going to give us, they cut things all the time," Galliford said. "There's no guarantee we're going to receive that every single year, or that it will even increase. As far as I'm concerned, I'm definitely not for this consolidation."
"I don't know what kind of guarantees the state can give us, because I don't have a whole lot of faith in the state," George Galliford said.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," said Rita Towner. "My concern is, like every one else here, the state has no money. In fact the city, in the bad shape that it's in, is in better shape, I think, than the state is in."
As he has previously, Jason Molino stressed that while there are no guarantees, the state money has been very reliable in the past. Large constituencies in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and other larger cities in the state get a far greater share of these grants and depend on it tremendously. And consolidation of local governments is a major objective for the governor and state legislature.
Some people after the meeting pointed out that there's no guarantee that the Town Board will never raise taxes either. What happens to the town, for example, if in 2018, when the current sales tax agreement with the county expires, and the county decides to no longer share that revenue. The town will be without recourse, but by state law, a city can override such a decision.
Ok, so we may not have had sunshine for our picnic this evening, but God’s light sure was shining bright! As Roxie, sang “ Let this little light of mine shine”, the youngsters were running all over the parking lot and hanging out in the back of the rescue van with Bridget.
The music was fantastic! We got new microphones for the band! This really made a difference. Our band is growing as well. God is leading people to Care-A-Van ministries that have a heart for going forth and taking God’s light to others. Is God nudging your heart to help let the light shine?
Tonight, a huge light shown as a single mom with 4 children came out to the picnic. As she sat and visited , she poured her heart out. Care-A-Van has been sharing the light with her for over a year, tonight God said let there be light! She accepted Jesus into her heart with the mist of rain falling on her and tears flowing ! We are working with her to get her connected to the local agencies that can help her with the different needs she has.
We will be returning to 193 South Main Saturday morning at 10:30 for grocery distribution. On Sunday afternoon at 2:30 we will be returning there for street church. Pastor Mark Perkins of the Oakfield Alabama Baptist church will be giving the message and the music will be provided by Mark Perkins and Possie!
We thank you for your continued support. Come on out and help us shine the light here in Batavia!
BATAVIA, N.Y. -- A trio of men from Buffalo are behind bars, held without bail, accused of robbing the M&T Bank, 7133 Oak Orchard Road, Elba, this morning and then attempting to escape into the woods between Oakfield and Batavia around Route 63 and Townline Road.
The men were identified this evening as Dennis M. Abrams, Jr, 26, of 202 Merrimac St., Buffalo; Demone D. Dillon, 25, 128 LaSalle Ave., Buffalo; and, Michael J. Wells, 24, 69 Camp St., Buffalo.
Witnesses to the 9:49 a.m. stick-up reported that the suspects had at least two guns. Another witness said the suspects fled in a black SUV and traveled south on Route 98.
Officers from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and Batavia City Police responded.
Sergeant Cory Harmon of the New York State Police observed the SUV traveling at a high rate of speed west on Batavia-Elba Townline Road towards Route 63 and gave chase.
When the persuit reached the intersection of Route 63 and Townline Road, two of the subjects jumped from the SUV and fled into a wooded area on the southwest of the intersection
The driver sped off down Route 63 toward Galloway Road. He then drove off the pavement behind a residence on Galloway. When he did, his SUV became stuck in the mud and he got out of the vehicle and tried to run on foot through the field.
He was quickly apprehended.
A short time later, the second suspect was taken into custody south of Townline Road, not far from the Route. 63 and Townline Road intersection.
Which of those two suspects is Abrams and which is Merrimac has not been released. Abrams was reportedly the driver.
The third suspect, Wells, managed to evade dozens of officers from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, the New York State Police and the U.S. Border Patrol, as well K-9 units and two helicopters (deployed at separate times) for more than five hours.
Throughout search for Wells, Sheriff Gary Maha remained confident that he would be captured. The suspect's general locations was apparently known most of the time, in part because he repeatedly used a mobile phone to call a friend, allowing law enforcement officials to triangulate his general location.
Officers finally cuffed Wells at about 2:40 p.m. near the intersection of Route 63 and Galloway Road.
Immediately after the initial report of the fleeing suspects just before 10 a.m., the Oakfield-Alabama Middle/High School was notified and requested to "lock down." Reportedly, per policy, the principle of the school then notified BOCES and BOCES officials then ordered all schools in Genesee County to lock down.
Shortly after 1 p.m., Maha suggested school officials call off the lockdown, telling dispatchers, "We have two suspects in custody and a good idea where the third suspect is, so we don't see any reason to have any schools locked."
The lock down reportedly caused many concerned calls to school officials, law enforcement and local media, with parents worried the suspects were closer to area schools than they actually were.
During the search, one handgun was recovered. A toy gun was picked up when the money was recovered.
The subjects were charged with robbery in the first degree, a class B felony, and arraigned before Elba Town Justice Lois Petote.
Pictured, top to bottom: Wells, Abrams and Dillon.
UPDATE: Dan Fischer is reporting this morning that sources have told WBTA that the scene inside the M&T Bank during the robbery was violent. Nobody was injured, but the robbers entered the bank guns displayed and at one point held a gun to the head of a bank employee. Another employee hid in a rear ofice, under a desk. She managed to trip an alarm. M&T Bank has made counselors available for the employees.
There is a manhunt in progress, with one suspect in custody around Route 63 and Townline Road.
Two other suspects are reportedly still at large, possibily armed, and on foot.
We don't know at this time what triggered the manhunt.
A helicopter has been called in to help with the search.
Batavia Police and Sheriff's Office units are on scene at multiple locations along Route 63.
UPDATE: There is a reported "money trail" south of the subject's vehicle.
UPDATE: 10:30 a.m.: Sheriff Gary Maha has confirmed the suspects are wanted in confirmed the suspects are wanted in connection with a bank robbery in Elba.
And, a woman just drive up to the command center, ran up to the sheriff and said she saw a subject running in a field north of Townline Road just minutes ago. The subject is east of 63, running north.
UPDATE: Helicopter on scene now.
UPDATE 10:50 a.m.: Second suspect in custody. Two more at large.
UPDATE: 10:52: One of the suspects in custody has reported there were only three subjects in the getaway car.
UPDATE 11:02 a.m.: Dan Fischer at WBTA is reporting that all schools in Genesee County have been placed on lock down.
UPDATE 12:22 p.m.: K-9, officers on foot and a helicopter has been searching a area to the northeast of the John Deere location. Now officers are discussing a report of foot prints in a field south of Townline Road. Air 1 has just been moved to that field, where a border batrol K-9 unit found the tracks.
UPDATE: 1:01 p.m.: Maj. Cummings of the NYSP just told the assembled media that the cordoned area is 5 miles. Sheriff Maha said, "We have two suspects in custody. We have this person identified. He might as well give up." Cummings encouraged people in the area to make sure their cars and houses are locked and don't let anybody in.
UPDATE 1:10 p.m.: Sheriff Maha just requested that all schools be unlocked. "We have two suspects in custody and a good idea where the third suspect is, so we don't see any reason to have any schools locked."
UPDATE: Took a while to get this video processed ... it's not quite done. My battery is almost dead, so I'm inserting the code for it now ... should appear shortly ... and shutting down laptop unless there is a significant development.
UPDATE: 2:30 a.m.: The at-large suspect has been identified as Michael J. Wells, 24, of Buffalo. He is 6' and 200 lbs. No other details about his background were releases. If my battery lasts long enough, I'll post a photo shortly.
UPDATE 2:42: The third suspect is in custody.
UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: Below is cellphone video submitted by Paul G. Barrett of Batavia depicting the apprehension of the final of three bank robbery suspects after a five-hour manhunt.
The Sheriff's Office press release says that Phelps operated the tractor "in a manner which unreasonably interfered with the free and proper use of the public highway and unreasonably endangered users of the public highway."
Phelps is set to appear in Batavia Town Court on July 16 at 1:30 p.m. for arraignment on the charge.
Federal charges have been filed against Dalton Wilke, the accused child pornographer from Livingston County that Batavia Police Detective Todd Crossett helped apprehend last August by imitating a 15-year-old in online conversations.
Wilke, 45, faces a felony charge of using the Internet to persuade or entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Wilke reportedly had pictures of minors engaging in sexual activity on his computer when he was apprehended. He faces charges of receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
He faces five to 20 years in prison on the child pornography charges and up to 10 years for the enticement charge.
Doug Houseknecht, a city worker, grinds old paint from the stop-light post at Main and Center. The city is repainting the base of the light polls up and down Main Street -- the first time since there were installed that they've been refinished. Houseknecht said they get sanded down, primed and then two coats of black paint. The city started on the project at least a week ago on the west end of Main.
Rosa LaSorte Rich, currently living in Brockport, taught at the school from 1973 to 1989.
Richard Boardman, a 1963 SUNY Brockport graduate who met her in 1959 as one of his class advisors and has since followed with admiration her professional and volunteer career.
“I can’t come up with one special act or accomplishment, because there are many, but the success of each was the result of the accumulation of the smaller, day-to-day positive contributions she makes, which are necessary to make individuals and society better,” Boardman wrote in his nomination letter.
Mayhem Riders motorcycle club out of the batavia area,held a motorcycle fun run this past weekend.we had 11 bikes all together,we had a low turnout due to the weather.
we went from stans harley davidson in batavia,to the arcade speedway,our plans of riding around the track and doing a few parade laps did not workout due to all the rain the area received,we were able to pull all our bikes in front of the grandstands and park while the united way rep received her check.we were able to raise $200.it is our first year for this club and it was our first club organized ride,so we will get more going in the future.we have alot planned this summer,so check our website out to see what we are about, http://www.mayhemriders.com
dont hesitate to contact any member in the club about any benefits you would like us to be a part of,we are always looking to help our community.any area businesses that can donate anything for our cause it would be greatly apreciated,we need items for a chinese auction for a benefit we are planning in august for a club members father who has cancer.here is aemail I received from the united way after the run:
Chris - I am so glad you sent this email to us! We wanted to get in touch with you to tell you how much your caring donation meant to our organization! Thank you all for helping make our first Race Night fundraiser a success - We had a wonderful time! Check out our website from time to time at www.uwcattco.org - if I have any photos from the event I will post them on our site! Thanks again and we'll be in touch! Candy, Gail, and Laura
so keep your eyes open one of our meembers is always in and around batavia,if you see us say hi,thanks
If it seems like there are fewer helping hands at Wal-Mart in Batavia these days, it's because there are.
A corporate spokeswoman confirmed rumors that the local site recently let go an undisclosed number of temporary workers.
Michelle Bradford, who works at the mega-chain's Bentonville, Arkansas offices, said: "We adjusted staffing at that store. We reduced the number of temporary workers. They are hired knowing their positions are temporary and subject to elimination at any time."
She would not divulge the number of downwardly adjusted staffing, but offered that Wal-Mart has several valid reasons for fluctuating the numbers of its employees. These include, but obviously are not limited to, being busier or slower, job performance or the lack thereof, training and scheduling requirements and "the needs of our employees."
Furthermore, stores are staffed "on a case-by-case basis" and these adjustments are, to be clear, made "from time to time."
The Genesee County Youth Bureau’s AmeriCorps is spreading the word on how graduating seniors can improve lives, strengthen communities and foster civic engagement through community service and volunteerism.
Over the course of the last five months, Project Director Kathy Frank and Victoria Rippel, Americorp member, have been educating high school groups about the benefits of serving in AmeriCorps.
They spoke to more than 250 students at eight different county schools. Students learned that membership benefits of the program include earning a living allowance while serving and receiving an educational award to help further their studies. Members also receive training in a number of areas including youth development, first aid, CPR and customer service.
Also, members gain valuable job skills and have the ability to explore career interests. National members serve on either a full- or part-time basis and work on a number of different projects ranging from environmental preservation and poverty reduction to tutoring and education. While in some programs nationwide members work together and live together, the Genesee County program has members working on individual projects and training. There will be new opportunities for students here in the fall.
For more information on these openings on the national web site or contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau at 344-3960 or emailing Kathy directly at [email protected]. To join, you must be at least 17 years of age and a U.S. citizen.