CONCORD — One man is being held without bail at the Erie County Holding Center, following an overnight stand-off between the Brown Hill Road resident and police. The situation erupted around 9 p.m. Sunday, March 16 and was peacefully resolved shortly before 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 17, after more than 12 hours.
A 911 call was received at 8:59 p.m. from a residence on Brown Hill Road, reporting that a male subject in a house next door was “out of control,” and acting in a threatening manner. He was later identified as 48-year-old Matthew Eck. The complainant was the subject’s wife, who had fled with their children to the neighbor’s house. Once there, the complainant made the call, requesting assistance. The complainant also told the radio dispatcher that there were guns inside the residence, and that she had heard what she believed were gunshots coming from the house.
Deputies Bradford Ballantyne and Jonathan Hanna were the first law enforcement officers to arrive on location. As they started to pull into the driveway of the residence, they were subjected to gunfire, which was coming from the area of the house. Both of the marked patrol cars were struck in the front three times, with one round going through each of the two windshields. Ballantyne and Hanna each backed their patrol cars down the roadway to a safer position and notified the Erie County Sheriff’s Dispatch of the evolving situation.
It was later determined that Eck was shooting a high-powered rifle. Hanna’s patrol vehicle was disabled at the scene.
The on-duty supervisors, Lieutenant Joseph Belden and Sergeant Shawn Young, immediately responded to the scene, and while enroute, began to deploy additional sheriff’s patrols to the scene, and to secure a perimeter around the area of the house.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics Team was dispatched to the scene, as was the department’s helicopter. In addition, multiple patrols from the New York State Police responded to assist, and their Emergency Response Team was also requested to assist at the scene, a short time later. The state police sent their helicopter, which was stationed in Syracuse, to back up the sheriff’s helicopter, as needed.
The sheriff’s office armored SWAT vehicle was struck by a rifle round, while it was being used to transport deputies from the staging area to the scene. During the standoff, the suspect fired dozens of shots, from which deputies later found more than 60 shell casings.
The occupants of the residence next door, including the complainant and her children, were evacuated from the house by the SWAT Team. The occupants of a house directly across the street were contacted, and asked to go into their basement, as it was deemed to be too much of a risk to attempt to remove them from the house. They were evacuated from the residence a few hours later, as were the occupants of six other nearby houses, before the incident was stabilized.
Early on, it could not be confirmed that Eck was still inside of the house, so police decided to close several roads in the area, which included both lanes of the Route 219 Expressway. These road closures were coordinated by the state police, and made possible with the assistance of several volunteer fire companies and other police agencies, as well as the New York State Department of Transportation.
Detective Captain Gregory Savage began attempting to contact Eck, with agents from the Buffalo Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who also detailed their SWAT Team to assist at the scene, assisting.
At 9:28 a.m., he agreed to walk out of the house. Eck was taken into custody without incident, by the members of the sheriff’s SWAT team, and was transported to the Erie County Medical Center for evaluation, under the New York State Mental Hygiene Law. It was determined that the standoff began as a domestic incident fueled by alcohol and possibly medication.
On March 18, Eck was arraigned by Concord Town Justice Timothy Frank, on two counts of attempted first-degree murder. No charges had been filed under Eck under the state’s SAFE Act, at press time, but the Erie County Sheriff’s Office reported that the investigation is continuing.
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard credited the professionalism of, and the cooperation between, the many agencies involved in being a major factor in the successful outcome of this critical incident.
In addition to those that were previously mentioned, the following agencies assisted as the scene:
- Erie County Emergency Services
West Seneca Police Department
- New York State Environmental Conservation Police
- US Border Patrol
The following agencies assisted with the road closures:
- Orchard Park Police Department
- East Concord Volunteer Fire Company
- Mortons Corners Volunteer Fire Company
- North Boston Volunteer Fire Company
- Hillcrest Volunteer Fire Company
- Langford Volunteer Fire Company
The Boston Volunteer Fire Company provided assistance by opening their fire hall to allow for a temporary safe shelter for the families involved, as well as for the neighbors who were evacuated from the area. Assistance was also given to the families and neighbors at the Boston Fire Station by the Rev. Joseph Bayne, who serves as the Chief Erie County Fire Chapla.
Medical stand-by assistance was provided by:
- Erie County Specialized Medical Assistance Response Team
- North Collins Ambulance Squad
- Boston Ambulance Squad
- Rural Metro Ambulance Service.
Watch the Journal for continued updates, as the story develops.