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Manhunt in progress near Townline and 63

By Howard B. Owens



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.


Bruce Ross

It is correct the M&T bank in Elba was robbed and the suspects were scene taking off in a black trailblazer with very dark tinted windows and no plates on the vehicle headed down batavia elba townline rd. They then dumped the vehicle and are on foot. Believe they have one in custody at this time.

Jun 18, 2009, 10:34am Permalink
Becky Scroger

I hear ya Laura! There's LOTS of hiding spots behind my house, being on a dead end street and having all the ponds back there.

Jun 18, 2009, 10:49am Permalink
nancy baxter

I just received a phone call from the county office. Is that a new feature to alert people of situations?
I wonder what will happen with regents that are supposed to happen this afternoon? Can they still give it? What about the kids that arent in the school yet?

Jun 18, 2009, 11:21am Permalink
Chelsea O'Brien

There are procedures about emergencies when it comes to Regents (something happened in my high school during finals one year and they had a plan in place)

Jun 18, 2009, 11:27am Permalink
Kathy Antinore

I called the high school directly and they said they are letting the students in for testing but not letting anyone out until they get the "all clear" from the state police.

Jun 18, 2009, 11:33am Permalink
Karen Miconi

I live behind Middle School, and just saw some kids in the parking lot. I heard sirens at the same time. maybe a fire alarm or something.
Update: Batavia Middle, the kids were turned away at the door because of the lockdown.

Jun 18, 2009, 11:43am Permalink
Peter O'Brien

I wish someone armed came into my house. They would either have to add murder to the list of charges or start filling out a death certificate.

Jun 18, 2009, 11:40am Permalink
Chris Chilano

Channel 4 just led the newscast at noon with the story and credited Howard and The Batavian with breaking the story and pictures online. GREAT JOB!

Jun 18, 2009, 12:06pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

Awesome Howard!! You are a great reporter. Good for you. I've been staying tuned to the scanner, and Air 1 searching for the last guy. Glad to see the dogs on this too!! Told the girls at JK about your up to the minute reports.

Jun 18, 2009, 12:11pm Permalink
nancy baxter

My husband just drove down 262....Fisher Road is closed at that intersection. Seemed like quite a bit activity down there...police qnd helicopter

Jun 18, 2009, 12:10pm Permalink
nancy baxter

Road block at corner of 98 and Elba Townline Road. Just stopped and searched his car. The policemen just said 1 at large. Police posted all along 98 right up to thruway.

Jun 18, 2009, 12:13pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

Moved Heli to south side of townline rd. where k-9 unit has found tracks!! Grey house with pine trees around it. First house on the right of Townline Rd.

Jun 18, 2009, 12:28pm Permalink
Becky Scroger

Nancy, I talked to Pat Baubie today because graduation practice is today. They are letting the Sr.'s in for that, but as for exams, I don't know. At dismissal time, if the lockdown is not lifted, the kids stay there.

Jun 18, 2009, 12:31pm Permalink
Becky Scroger

I believe OACS is letting kids in for exams, but possibly not letting them leave. I know one student should have been home by 10:30, and she's still there. The big kids can handle it. I worry more about the elementary kids. A.M. pre-k is still there and should have been out by 11 I think. P.M. pre-k is cancelled.

Jun 18, 2009, 12:54pm Permalink
nancy baxter

I thought during lockdown NO ONE was supposed to be allowed into schools, except emergency personnel. Doesnt letting kids in, even for exams and rehearsal, go against the whole lock down procedure?

Jun 18, 2009, 12:57pm Permalink
daniel cherry

Jimmy Cherry was supposed to get an award today at Robert Morris.They canceled the awards till Tuesday at 1. Daniel Said he had lunch.I must go get him and physically appear, so i'll go pick him up on my bike.Why did they have to rob a bank today?Especially Elba bank?

Jun 18, 2009, 12:59pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

Just talked to my friend Bill, who said Air 1 is right behind his house, searching. He didnt know anything about it. I told him to lock his doors!!

Jun 18, 2009, 1:01pm Permalink
Lynn Naylor

I received a phone call from Elba Central stating the Sherriffs office ordered their lockdown . I got that call at 10:20 this morning. They are letting kids in to take their exams just cant leave after.And noone in the building has been allowed to leave .

Jun 18, 2009, 1:11pm Permalink
laurie garnish

I didn't hear anything about Byron-Bergen being in lock down? Some reports say all Genesee County schools are in lock down. Great reporting Howard !

Jun 18, 2009, 1:15pm Permalink
Richard Gahagan

I just got a call from one of the robbers, he said he just robbed the bank cause he wanted everyone to stop commenting on the City Worker painting the dang light post.

Jun 18, 2009, 2:03pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

WOW ! That was Live News Coverage I dont think anyone could do so quickly and utilize the internet . With something as important as the safety of peoples children made this coverage so valuable. Thanks Howard.

Jun 18, 2009, 1:28pm Permalink
Richard Schildwaster

Finally at 1:25 got an automated phone message from O/A School notifying parent that they are in lockdown until further notice. Don't know about that 1:10 post Howard.

Jun 18, 2009, 1:31pm Permalink
Peter O'Brien

What child was ever threatened?

They robbed a bank and ran away, there was no report of any assault and they were only possibly armed.

Jun 18, 2009, 1:32pm Permalink
Becky Scroger

Glad Oakfield is right on top of their notification system! Got the lockdown call and not less than 5 minutes later, got the call that the lockdown was lifted.

Jun 18, 2009, 1:43pm Permalink
Steve Ognibene

Great job Howard on the pictures and all the coverage. The Batavian was on top of this story from start to finish! We just got an automated phone message from the Batavia school district that the lock down has been lifted. I just hope no one was hurt by all this chaos. Thank-you.

Jun 18, 2009, 1:45pm Permalink
Andrew Erbell

Don't burst their bubble Peter. They're bonding as part of the 3rd leg of the stool or some such thing. The only way it could be better is if everyone were sitting in a coffee shop (locally owned and operated of course) at different tables, all staring at their laptops, typing to one another in the very same room.

Jun 18, 2009, 1:48pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Received a call from Batavia Schools, lockdown, for them, is clear at 1:31pm. Although the suspect has not been apprehended? I guess they figure the guy isn't headed for Batavia.

Jun 18, 2009, 1:53pm Permalink
Lorie Longhany

I assume the lockdown is a precaution to prevent any children from being in harms way should a suspect decide to run into a school for refuge. Makes sense to me. I don't disagree with caution in these types of incidents.

This effected my plans for the day. I have a scheduled art show tonight, but needed to be able to 1st enter the school (which I couldn't) and 2nd transfer panels of displayed artwork from one building to another.

Although the lockdown has now been lifted my principal decided to cancel our evening events as he didn't know when the all clear would be called and we were running into an issue with an ever shrinking preparation time frame and manpower.

I received five messages from my schools administration. They did an excellent job keeping parents and teachers informed. And it's great to have the up to the minute reporting from The Batavian.

Jun 18, 2009, 2:02pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

Thank you Lori! Couldnt have said it better. If you dont have children, you dont see the importance. Im going to get mine now. Im just glad nowone got hurt.

Jun 18, 2009, 2:16pm Permalink
daniel cherry

(I'm Dan cherry Jr) When we had the lock down i was just about to go home and eat lunch but we had a lock down instead they fed us lunch. but they couldn't find the Key so they broke in the refrigerator. and At about 1:20 the lock down was lifted.

Jun 18, 2009, 2:27pm Permalink
William Buckley


I can't say anything specific for any given district as I simply don't know, but at various schools in Rochester (and I would assume it applies in general) lockdowns are used in this type of situation to keep everyone in the school safe. The first intent is to keep anyone else from entering the building if possible, and the second is that everyone is already at the safest points in the building they can be at if someone the police are looking for were to get in to the building despite the lockdown. Lockdowns are definitely used in more situations than just a worst case scenario of an active shooter, a Greece school had a fight between a student and security personnel a few days ago and they locked the school down as standard procedure.

Jun 18, 2009, 2:22pm Permalink
Peter O'Brien

Your emotional reaction was unfounded Karen. Locking down the schools is fine I was commenting specifically to this quote "With something as important as the safety of peoples children made this coverage so valuable."

Are Howard, Andrew, and I the last voices of reason on this site?

Jun 18, 2009, 2:19pm Permalink
Peter O'Brien

"a Greece school had a fight between a student and security personnel a few days ago and they locked the school down as standard procedure."

Just like a prison....

Jun 18, 2009, 2:26pm Permalink
Jacob Bell

I love how scared people got during this. They made it seem like the people are going to like go into the school and stuff. Theyre not that dumb, theyre going to stay low key and out of sight.

Jun 18, 2009, 3:05pm Permalink
Barb Johnson


Jun 18, 2009, 3:19pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

Barbara Jean!! How the Hell are ya?
Congrats to all Law Enforcement, and Howard Owens for a job well done. Ill bet it was great to put all those tactic to work today, with a successful outcome.

Jun 18, 2009, 3:37pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Jeff, funny. Maybe I'll still do one. You never know.

If I can stay awake.

And I still have a chamber function to drop by, a Muckdogs event and the consolidation meeting (if anybody sees me falling asleep during it, no fair posting a picture).

Thanks for the compliments from all.

I owe a big thanks to my wife. Even though she had other things to do today, she came out to the scene with a back-up battery for my laptop and then went and bought me two of Jerry Arena's hot dogs (after doing the morning update of the site and taking care of a few other things, I was on my way to Pok-A-Dot for breakfast when this started, so I'd had nothing to eat at that point).

Jun 18, 2009, 4:05pm Permalink
Barb Johnson





Jun 18, 2009, 4:52pm Permalink
Olivia Gimlin

I was sitting in my english regents when they announced that we were going into lockdown. (i go to oakfield school). We were not to leave the school, they announced that all the windows were to be closed, and when our test was finished they actually did start the next one. all of us juniors that were in the test had to saty and we were escorted to the gym and then to the cafeteria. we were finally released at 1:10. our parents were not even allowed to come pick us up. I had called my mom at around noon and at that point none of the parents had been notified yet, we went into lockdown at 10:14! i think the parents should have been notified sooner considering quite a few parents were waiting to be pick their kids.

Jun 18, 2009, 4:58pm Permalink
Woyvel Lloyce

Sheriff Maha was very diplomatic in saying it was the schools' decision to lock down. It was not decided by law enforcement, but by poorly informed school officials, lapse in communication, or school officials with poor judgment. There was no imminent danger to any students in any area other than Oakfield. Locking down every school in the county causes panic and rumors, especially among elementary students. I'm sure the Sheriff and State Police Major would suggest a lock down if it was truly warranted.

Jun 18, 2009, 5:44pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Thanks to all for the nice comments about the coverage -- and for not making fun of the massive number of typos and mangled phrases ... I've decided not to correct any of that since it just goes along with working quickly to get as much information out as fast as possible.

Jun 18, 2009, 11:08pm Permalink
Susan Brownell

Howard... I watched this story until I had to go to work! Great coverage and KUDOS!! I work at the library in Bergen and a man came in talking about this story. We commented about how great of a job you were doing.

Jun 18, 2009, 11:17pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Howard, your coverage was raw journalism at it's best. I appreciated the 'on the spot' work that you did. Kudos to Billie for being there.
While the main topic is, of course, the robbery and capture of those responsible. There is a second story, and it is the readers. TheBatavian gave us an opportunity to share their views on a story that was unfolding.
I was at my daughter's when I heard a siren. I came to her computer to find out what was going on. I KNEW that whatever it was, you were on top of it.
My daughter has surgery on Wednesday and confined to bed. I read every post to her. My neice, in Buffalo, thought I was kidding about the robbery and lock down when I mentioned it in FB. My Florida son immediately wrote back, "no, no, it's all true, I read it on TheBatavian".
This is a great example of a 'third place'. Now, if you only served coffee in the morning....

Jun 19, 2009, 8:05am Permalink

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