Tonawanda News — Police have taken two individuals into custody for an armed robbery and assault Thursday morning in North Tonawanda they later said was a hoax portrayed by an employee of CVS pharmacy and her boyfriend.
”We arrested the clerk. It was staged like a robbery, it was not a robbery,” said Police Capt. Thomas Krantz.
The clerk, Kayla Hotaling, 23, 1426 Doebler Drive, and her purported boyfriend, Kevin Spellane-Newman, 24, 130 62nd St., Niagara Falls, are accused of coordinating the robbery at 7:50 a.m. inside the store at 955 Payne Ave., in Mid City Plaza.
Police said Hotaling was the only employee in the store when the alleged robbery occurred, initially stating a white male had entered the establishment brandishing a handgun, forcing her to open a safe and hand over money, before commanding her to her knees and striking her in the back of the head, dazing her.
The suspect was then reported fleeing the store in a southerly direction with an undisclosed sum of cash.
In a statement released Thursday evening, investigators say Hotaling, who was taken to DeGraff Memorial Hospital, later confessed to setting up the robbery with Spellane-Newman.
Spellane-Newman was arrested Thursday by Niagara Falls police for criminal possession of a controlled substance. Upon his release, North Tonawanda police will charge him with third-degree grand larceny, a D-felony, fifth-degree conspiracy and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Hotaling, already in police custody, has been charged with third-degree grand larceny, fifth-degree conspiracy and third-degree falsely reporting an incident.
The apparent ruse sent city police and Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies on a city-wide search for the suspect, including the utilization of a helicopter that scoured fields in the Ridge Road area, and sent two nearby schools into lockout mode, which prohibited anyone from entering North Tonawanda High School and Meadow Elementary School without proper identification. The precautionary measures were lifted at 9:45 a.m.