CHEEKTOWAGA, NY ( WKBW )
An elderly man went on a rant inside a Cheektowaga bank Monday morning and then police say he told officers he had a bomb in his car. That launched a meticulous search that took several hours but apparently did not turn up any bombs or bomb-making materials.
The incident that sparked the all-day search happened shortly after 10:30 a.m. at the Key Bank branch in the Apple Tree Business Park on Union Road. Police say Edward Johns, 78, of Cheektowaga walked into the bank, displayed a gun tucked into his waistband, said the gun was loaded and started ranting at bank employees. "He wanted to withdraw some money," says Capt. Jim Speyer of the Cheektowaga Police Department, "He said that several different people were out to get him -- the F.B.I., the mafia were out to get him. He was just talking pretty incoherently."
According to police, when they arrived to arrest Johns that's when he told officers there was a bomb in his car. Police say they had to take the man's claim seriously in part because also he claimed he had a loaded gun and that turned out to be true. Cheektowaga police called in the Erie County Sheriff's bomb squad and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority with their bomb dog for assistance. Police also evacuated the man's apartment building in the Edgebrook Estates across Union Road from the bank. "We are not sure that there is a bomb. We are just taking his threats seriously for everyone's safety," says Capt. Speyer.
The bomb squad used a robot to blow out the windows of the man's car, then a bomb squad member in a protective suit approached the car and opened the doors. He found several duffel bags inside and sent the robot back in to carefully pull the bags out.
Police say a search of Johns' apartment turned up nothing bomb-related and police allowed residents to go back into their apartments around 2:30 p.m. The search of the car though took the rest of the afternoon. "We still have to go through all the bags that are out here that they found and pulled out of the vehicle," explains Speyer, "As soon as we have all those cleared then we'll know if there was actually a bomb or not."
As of Monday evening the search had not turned up anything dangerous. Johns is being charged with second degree menacing and falsely reporting an incident.