19th Street 'Trap house' draws attention

Rick Pfeiffer, Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
·3 min read

Apr. 7—Friday night wasn't the first time Falls cops paid a visit to what they called the "trap house on 19th."

But they're hoping it might be the last.

Emergency Response Team officers and detectives with the Falls Police Narcotics & Intelligence Division (NID) hit an upper apartment in the two story brick building on the 600 block of 19th Street just before midnight. The raid was so sudden, it sent one suspect jumping out of a second-story window in an attempt to escape.

The action was prompted by a series of violent incidents in and around the building since the beginning of the year.

On Jan. 4, at around 8:20 p.m., patrol officers responded to multiple calls of "shots fired" in the vicinity of the apartment building.

Officers at the scene located 20 .223-caliber shell casings, 19 of them them spent, between houses at 612 and 614 19th St., directly across the street from the building. Police said at the time that windows in the apartment building appeared to have been shattered by the gunfire.

Investigators also found evidence of bullet holes in the brick of the building. No injuries were reported as a result of that incident.

Both witnesses and police described the apartment building then as a "trap house."

Just over a month later, on Feb. 14, gunfire broke out again around the building.

Police said they responded to a call, from the emergency room at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, that an unidentified male victim had been brought in suffering from gunshot wounds. Medical Center personnel said the victim was brought around 9:15 p.m. in a private vehicle, that was then seen "speeding away" from the hospital.

The victim, a 24-year-old Falls man, had suffered multiple gunshot wounds to both his legs. Initial reports indicated that the man had been shot at least three times.

Criminal Investigation Division detectives said the victim was "uncooperative" while being treated and was "openly hostile toward police and medical personnel who were questioning him." At one point, police said that while the victim was being evaluated by doctors, he attempted to "walk-out of the hospital without treatment'"

Patrol officers who were assisting at the medical center, "fearing the victim would not survive (his) injuries without medical treatment", were were able to locate the man as he was leaving and bring him back into the ER. The victim received further treatment and was able to survive his injuries.

Detectives quickly linked the shooting to the 19th Street apartment building and determined that the shooting had taken place inside a second floor apartment.

Witnesses who heard the gunfire told police that they observed what appeared to be a man jumping from a second floor window of the building at around the time the shooting was reported.

Video from security cameras at a nearby business confirmed the witness accounts.

The hunt for the suspect in that shooting is continuing.

The address has been scene of a fatal overdose on New Year's Day. Investigators said they have received numerous citizen complaints about drug dealing and prostitution activity in the apartment building.

As detectives were investigating the Jan. 4 shooting incident, they were able to recover a cache of stolen property in a second floor apartment. The property, primarily electric scooters, was believed to have been taken in a burglary ion a Third Street bike rental business.

In Friday's raid, investigators seized a a Taurus .357 revolver. Police charged Bobby Kent, 19, no available address, with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Investigators said charges are pending against two other individuals, found inside the trap house apartment, pending lab results on suspected crack cocaine that was seized during the raid.

NID detectives were assisted in their investigation by Niagara County Drug Task Force investigators along with federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents and K-9 officers with the U.S. Border Patrol.