WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) - West Seneca Police and fire crews spent hours searching Buffalo Creek for a suspected shoplifter who jumped off the Harlem Road bridge while he was being questioned by police about stealing cookies and beer from Tops right down the street.
Police say the man, who they recognized from other shoplifting incidents, admitted he had the beer and cookies in his backpack. He then removed the bag just before jumping feet-first nearly 30 feet into about three feet of water. He has not been seen since.
"Pulled over my patrol car, got out, attempted to talk to the individual. Asked him where he came from, what he had in his backpack. He did say he had the beer in his backpack. [Took off] his backpack and jumped off the bridge in the middle of the bridge into the water," said. West Seneca "I witnessed him jump off the bridge. I saw him go down, did not see him come back up. He could have possibly swam underneath the bridge, possibly still in the woods."
West Seneca volunteer firefighters spent an hour walking around the creek before the Buffalo Underwater Recovery Team was called to assist crews in the search. Though it remains unclear if the suspect is on the run or has drowned, with every hour that passes where his body has not been located, it increases the likelihood he has survived and escaped.
The current in the creek is not very strong due to the lack of rain, and the water is not very deep. But there are some deep pockets. The underwater recovery team was called in to help look in those areas.
The suspect is described as a young black male wearing a blue T-shirt. Police tell News 4 they do not plan to return to the creek Tuesday morning. They plan to meet to discuss how they will move forward with the search.
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