BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Buffalo man had charges re-filed against him relating to alleged threats against local restaurants the day after the Tops mass shooting, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Joseph S. Chowaniec, 52, was charged with two counts of second-degree aggravated assault. Chowaniec was originally charged with two counts of making a terroristic threat, but those charges were dropped in November.
At approximately 12:05 p.m. on May 15, Chowaniec allegedly made a phone call to the Bocce Pizza located on Delaware Avenue and threatened to “shoot up Bocce’s like the Tops on Jefferson,” while complaining about a pizza made earlier in the week.
In addition, at approximately 12:47 p.m. on May 15, Chowaniec allegedly called Southern Tier Brewing Company on Scott Street and made a similar threat.
Both restaurants closed down for the day following the alleged phone calls.
Chowaniec is scheduled to return on Jan. 4, 2023 for a pre-trial conference and was released on his own recognizance as the charges did not qualify for bail. He faces a maximum of one year in prison.
Temporary no-contact orders of protection were also issued on behalf of the victims, which includes their places of employment.
“This defendant is accused of making threatening phone calls to businesses and referencing this horrific crime the day after the shooting occurred on Jefferson Avenue,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said. “I, along with the families of the victim, the survivors and the entire City of Buffalo continue to mourn this tragedy. This crime will not be tolerated and any threat will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”