CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) — 50-year-old David Cottom, Sr., the Akron man law enforcement officers were searching for in Clarence Wednesday morning, has been taken into custody and faces multiple felony, misdemeanor and traffic charges.
Schools in the Clarence Central School District closed for the day as law enforcement officials searched the area for Cottom, whom they called a person of interest.
“To ensure the safety of students and staff, local law enforcement advised that we close school to give them adequate time to resolve the situation,” Clarence School Superintendent Matt Frahm said.
The Erie County Sheriff’s office announced numerous charges against Cottom, Sr.:
- A felony count of grand larceny – auto
- A felony count of criminal mischief – 2nd degree
- A misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of a vehicle
- A misdemeanor count of unlawful fleeing from police
- A misdemeanor count of reckless driving
- A misdemeanor count of aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle
Traffic law violations include speeding, operation of a vehicle by an unlicensed driver, and three violations for failing to stop at a stop sign.
During his court appearance, Clarence Town Justice Michael Powers said Cottom has been arrested 30 times, including 14 felonies, one violent felony and 13 misdemeanors. “He’s been convicted 24 times, two felonies and 21 misdemeanors. That’s what the rap sheet shows,” said Judge Powers. Cottom is held without bail at the Erie County Holding Center.
It all began when at some point, a quickly-moving vehicle nearly struck a Sheriff’s Office vehicle along Main Street in Clarence, authorities say.
When deputies tried to stop the driver, they say he fled the scene. Ground and air units were subsequently deployed to find him.
Luke Allport-Cohoon, whose vehicle was parked at the nearby Clarence United Methodist Church, believes Cottom may have gone through his vehicle.
After noticing a smoky smell in his car, Allport-Cohoon believes he saw Cottom on or near the road roughly five minutes later. Allport-Cohoon says the man tried to flag him down, but he continued driving away.
And after seeing a helicopter, Allport-Cohoon says he put the picture together and called 911.
“Somebody had been in my car, and somebody had left the center console of my dash open, and the armrest open, like they had been going through things, probably to find the keys. I don’t know,” Allport-Cohoon says. “But I was really suspicious, really on edge. And as I was pulling out here, probably directly behind me, some guy started flagging me down as I’m driving past. And instinct kicked in, and I just put the pedal to the metal and got out of there as quickly as I could.”
Authorities believe Cottom was despondent when the incident on Main Street occurred.
During their search in the area of Pineledge Drive and Winding Lane, the Sheriff’s Office received a call about a stolen vehicle. Shortly before 9:30 a.m., the vehicle, being driven by someone fitting Cottom’s description, was spotted in Buffalo.
Authorities tried to follow the vehicle but lost sight of it near Niagara Street. It was later found on Prospect Avenue.
Around 10:15 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office announced that Cottom had been taken into custody. Deputies say they found him near Niagara and Maryland streets after a brief search, following the discovery of the stolen vehicle.
Frahm released a statement following Cottom’s capture:
“While closing school is never an easy decision to make, we did not want to have our students outside waiting for the bus while the search was in progress. We just learned that the individual was taken into custody, and we are thankful that no one was harmed in the process.
We hope our students and staff will take time to honor all veterans tomorrow, and we look forward to having everyone back in school on Friday.”Clarence School Superintendent Matt Frahm
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