— — Town of Tonawanda police dealt with a tense situation Monday morning at a house fire on Fries Road in the town.
As of noon, Joseph Hollywood, 60, is still unaccounted for, police said. However, police lifted the lockdown on Fries Road and the school lockdowns about 1 p.m.
Lt. Nick Bado of the Town of Tonawanda Police Department said that, at 9:15 a.m. Monday, police received a call from a woman at 163 Fries Road "screaming 'He's going to kill me,' saying 'He has a gun,' saying 'He's set the house on fire.' " Police responded to the scene and found the home ablaze, with the woman safely outside.
Bado said that Hollywood is reportedly the only one in the house and that he is reportedly armed. Despite some reports, no shots have been fired, Bado said. (However, neighbors said they heard three shots a little after 9 a.m.)
"He is someone we've had contact with, regularly, for decades," Bado said.
Because of the possibility of a gunman, emergency personnel were not able to get closer to the blaze, and as of 10:15 a.m., Bado said that the house was collapsing and the garage was on fire. The man has not been located, and police have a perimeter set up to watch for him.
Police have been in contact with residents of the area, who have been told to shelter in their basements or evacuate, Bado said.
About 12:30 p.m., heavy black smoke came from the house following the detonation of three stun grenades. The SWAT team was at the scene.
All local schools were in lockdown/lock-out mode during the morning. According to the Ken-Ton school district, "The Town of Tonawanda Police Department has advised that all school district buildings should not allow anyone to leave or enter at this time. The reason is that there is a possibly deranged individual that may be related to a house fire on the corner Eggert and Fries Roads. Police informed us that at some point shots may have been fired, and we will remain in lock down mode until they have found him as they are not completely sure he is in the house."
At 1:11 p.m., Ken-Ton superintendent Mark Mondanaro issued a statement saying that police have told him the lockdown is no longer needed and "The area and vehicles around the house have been cleared and the house has mostly collapsed, where they believe the person to be."
National Grid cut power to the area for a period of time.