Buffalo man charged with threatening two businesses, referencing Tops shooting
A Buffalo man was arraigned Monday morning in Buffalo City Court on a felony charge of making a terroristic threat.
Joseph Chowaniec, 52, is accused of making threats during a phone calls at around 12:05 p.m. Sunday to Bocce's Pizza on Delaware Avenue and about 40 minutes later to the Southern Tier Brewing Company on Scott Street.
He allegedly made threats with the intent to intimidate or coerce that created a reasonable expectation of fear, and referenced the Saturday shootings at the Tops Market that killed 10 people in each phone call. The pizzeria closed for the remainder of the day. The brewery also closed early.
Temporary no-contact orders of protection were issued on behalf of the victims, which include their places of employment.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn noted that such crimes will not be tolerated and that Chowaniec is scheduled to return to court for a felony hearing Friday morning, following a psychiatric examination. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
Another threat posted on social media is being investigated by Amherst and Cheektowaga Police.
On Twitter Monday afternoon, Cheektowaga Police said there was an investigation into the credibility of the threats and patrol officers were monitoring the situation at retail locations throughout the town.
The Amherst Police Department was also aware of the threat, which was being investigated. The text of the message, sent just before noon, is "Between the hours of 4-8 me & my associates will be targeting Walmart on Sheridan, Sam's on union, Tops on union, Tops university (only looking to kill blacks)."
Daemen University sent out an alert to its campus community about the threat.
[AMHERST POLICE, NY] - The Amherst Police Department is aware of the threat shown here. It is currently under investigation. We are working with all of our law enforcement partners as the investigation continues. pic.twitter.com/1xAlYpObpC— Amherst Police NY 🚔 (@amherstpoliceny) May 16, 2022