TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Tuesday morning, Town of Tonawanda police released more details as to what happened before a crash that killed two North Tonawanda residents.
Tyler Lichtenberger and Gianna Ameno, 21, lost their lives on Friday night.
Around 10:35 p.m., police say Lichtenberger and Ameno were in the parking lot of the Sheridan Parkside Minimart when the former confronted another male there.
Lichtenberger did not know who that person was, police say, but following an exchange of words, he reached into his waistband for a weapon and pointed it at the person.
After the confrontation turned physical, Lichtenberger allegedly drove his car toward the male and another female who was there before leaving the parking lot.
About 10 minutes later, police say Lichtenberger pulled up next to another vehicle at Military and Skillen and started to rev the vehicle’s engine.
The male driver in the other vehicle looked over, and that’s when Lichtenberger got out and began a vulgar tirade. The driver of the other vehicle did not know Lichtenberger, who proceeded to point a gun at him, police say.
After this, Lichtenberger got back into his vehicle, struck the other vehicle with it, and fled the scene.
“Clearly the behavior was unusual,” Town of Tonawanda Police Chief Jim Stauffiger said.
Lichtenberger continued driving up Military Rd. in a northerly direction when he was spotted by a police officer.
While Lichtenberger was driving at speeds higher than 80 miles per hour, the officer tried to conduct a traffic stop, but could not get within five blocks of Lichtenberger’s car.
Eventually, Lichtenberger’s car crashed into another vehicle at Military and Sheridan, and at this time, police believe he was going at least 100 miles per hour.
His vehicle then struck a second vehicle, spinning out and ejecting him and Ameno. Neither were wearing seat belts.
“This is not a scene that police officers come across every day,” Stauffiger said. “Maybe once in their entire career. I’ve never seen an engine block sheared off of a vehicle before this incident. I’ve been here for 25 years.”
The three others who were hurt as a result of this incident have since been released from the hospital.
A BB gun found at the scene was believed to have been in Lichtenberger’s possession.
It’s not clear if drugs or alcohol played a role in this crash, but police say it will be several months before the results of a toxicology test are in.
Lichtenberger and Ameno left behind a young son.