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Niagara Falls man charged after closure of thruway, evacuation of neighborhood

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Posted at 2:06 PM, Mar 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 08:41:15-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Niagara Falls man that caused a closure of the New York State Thruway and a search of his home caused the evacuation of a neighborhood, has been charged.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 47-year-old Jose Gandia was charged with unlawful possession of a destructive device and unlawful possession of a shortened shotgun.

Gandia allegedly pointed a shotgun with a red laser out of a red pickup on the NYS Thruway Wednesday. Police responded and located Gandia stopped behind traffic cones in a work zone, when troopers attempted to handcuff him he resisted arrest.

Two troopers took Gandia into custody, one suffered a broken hand and a knife was found in Gandia's pocket. A second knife was found on the ground next to the pickup.

Troopers discovered a sawed-off shotgun, rifle, bulletproof vest, and another knife in the pickup. A second bulletproof vest and a confirmed pipe bomb were found in the rear of the pickup.

"During the examination of the device, the bomb technician utilized a “Disruptor,” a tool used to knock off the end cap of the device in an attempt to disassemble and disable the device remotely. During this procedure the device detonated," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a release.

After Gandia was taken into custody investigators executed a search warrant of his home on Cedar Avenue in Niagara Falls.

The neighborhood was evacuated for a period of time, nine suspected destructive devices, similar to the device from the vehicle, were recovered from the home.

"Five of the suspected devices were attached to two separate propane tanks. Two of the devices were placed near the front entrance of the residence and two additional devices were placed near the rear entrance; all four devices were rigged to detonate," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a release.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. thanked all law enforcement involved in the case.

“Amidst the pandemic, the brave men and women of law enforcement continue to risk life and limb to keep our communities safe,” said U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “With knives, guns, and 10 bombs—one of which was detonated, and nine of which were inside a house located in a crowded residential area—the danger this individual presented cannot be overstated. As our tremendous medical professionals—and each of us—focus efforts on doing everything possible to defeat the invisible enemy, our law enforcement professionals remain vigilant to ensure that our fight may continue and that the enemies amongst us can do us no harm. All of our protectors are worthy of our praise and gratitude.”