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Dollar store shooting suspect held without bail, police confirm 'civilian heroes'

A 29-year-old man suspected in a shooting incident outside a local store is currently held without bail. Town of Cheektowaga Police, meanwhile, confirmed that two "civilian heroes" intervened and helped officers avert what authorities say could have been a mass shooting.

Travis Green, represented by a public defender, entered a plea of not guilty before Town of Cheektowaga Justice Dennis Gorski Wednesday morning. Gorski ordered Green held without bail.

Investigators believe he is the man who appeared at a Dollar General store on Union Road at French Road, shooting several rounds with an assault rifle. One man, a 53-year-old Cheektowaga man whose name was not released as of Wednesday morning, was struck in the shoulder and, according to police, was recovering.

Police Chief David Zack confirmed two "civilian heroes" acted to help stop the suspect and bring him into custody.

"These people were proactive. They saw a threat," Zack said. "I don't recommend engaging someone armed with an AR-15 rifle, I certainly don't recommend that. But just incredible bravery on the part of these individuals."

Police say Green had a few encounters with their department, all for "very minor" incidents. Their last known encounter, according to Chief Zack, was in 2013.  

The chief said Green was not cooperating with investigators and a motive behind his alleged actions was still unknown, though he added "I believe we would be safe in ruling out terrorism."

The suspect's mother, Viola Green, suggested outside the courthouse that her son may have snapped under the pressure of various personal problems, including recent job losses, a work-related injury and a failed marriage.

She also told reporters that his rifles were legally registered and owned by her son for years.

"He liked to go to shooting practice because he used to go hunting with the gentleman from the job," she said. "And they still talk and they go hunting. He liked going to the range. It's a hobby, spare time, something to do."

Police investigators, however, say they're looking more closely at the guns they recovered to see whether they're in full compliance with New York State's SAFE Act.

"The weapon used appears to be a pump-action rifle versus a semi-automatic, which would change its status under the New York State SAFE Act," said Cheektowaga Police Captain Thomas Gerace. "I can say, looking at the weapon in the car, it appears to be SAFE Act compliant, however there was a vertical foregrip or side grip attached to it, which would make that in violation of the New York State SAFE Act to possess."

Green is scheduled to appear in court again next Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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