Dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement officers descended on a Cataract City apartment house Wednesday evening and discovered what may have been a bomb factory.
New York State Police said they were drawn to an upstairs apartment in the building, located at 320 Cedar Ave., after a violent confrontation between troopers and a male suspect on the New York State Thruway near Silver Creek Wednesday morning.
After executing a search warrant at the apartment, and flying a drone into it through an open window, troopers said they discovered "what appeared to be explosive devices" inside.
"Members of our bomb disposal and special operations teams are working to address the situation and render it safe," State Police Major Jim Hall said at briefing hours after the discovery.
Residents of the apartment building, and those living in the immediate area of Third Street and Cedar Avenue, were evacuated to Harry F. Abate Elementary School. Falls police said 19 people were being held at the school and that the Red Cross had been called in to assist.
Late Wednesday, Hall offered no timetable for when residents might be able to return to their homes.
"We're going to take our time and make sure they're all clear," he said. "We have to make sure the apartment is clear."
The state police major declined to say how many explosive devices were observed inside the apartment.
Earlier in the evening, a state police emergency response team entered the building, but then withdrew. Hall said a bomb disposal robot, that was standing-by outside the apartment house, had not yet been deployed inside.
Troopers said the trouble started to unfold around 9 a.m. Wednesday when they received a call for a menacing incident.
"A motorist reported that a driver had pointed a shotgun at him while driving westbound (on the Thruway) near exit 57 at Silver Creek," Hall said.
The major said a trooper was able to locate the driver involved in the incident and pulled him over. After stopping the man, described only as "in his 40s," the suspect confronted the trooper, as a second state police patrol arrived on the scene.
"When he confronted that trooper, he did not have a weapon in his hand," State Police spokesman Trooper James O'Callaghan said.
But O'Callaghan said the suspect was aggressive and refused to obey orders from the trooper and began fighting with him. The trooper and the back-up patrol were able to subdue the suspect and take him into custody.
Both troopers were injured in the confrontation, one suffering a broken hand while the other sustained several cuts. Both were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
Troopers said the suspect had two guns in his possession as well as a shotgun and a ballistic vest. Investigators also located a package in the back of the suspect's pick-up truck.
A state police bomb squad responded to the scene and found a pipe bomb in the package.
Police closed down both the east and westbound lanes of the thruway for more than three hours while the bomb was disarmed.
The suspect was linked to the Cedar Avenue apartment.
State police, along with Falls police and agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives went to the building to continue their investigation.