Reader warning: This post contains details about an alleged sexual assault.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — An 18-year-old has been arrested in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place Sept. 19 in Niagara Falls, police officials announced during a Wednesday press conference.
Alexander J. Bryant was taken into custody Tuesday around the 600 block of 24th Street for his alleged role in the assault. Police said he was found to be in possession of a loaded illegal handgun during the arrest.
On the night of the alleged sexual assault, police said Bryant confronted a 31-year-old female who was not known to him around 11:30 p.m. near the Pine Plaza at the corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Military Road with a handgun. He then allegedly forced the victim behind a building in the plaza and sexually assaulted her.
“This is not something that you see very often,” Niagara Falls Police Captain John Conti said. “It raised a lot of red flags, a lot of concerns … We’re hopeful that by making the arrest, it can give [the victims] some kind of closure and at least make them feel a little safer as with the rest of the public.”
Bryant was charged with first-degree rape and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He was remanded to Niagara County Jail and is expected to appear in court on Monday.
Conti credited new technology and “old-fashioned police work” with helping them take Bryant into custody.
Police officers responding to a separate report of a suspicious person at a different location encountered Bryant and caught him on bodycam footage uttering a particular phrase, according to Conti. During a follow-up interview with the victim, she mentioned that the suspect said the same phrase during the course of the alleged assault, which led police to Bryant.
“The body cameras that we have, they’re so much more accessible and everything gets recorded and it’s documented,” Conti said.
The Sept. 19 incident is one of two alleged sexual assaults that took place in Niagara Falls recently, with the other occurring Oct. 6 in the parking lot of the Tops on Portage Road. In that incident, police said a teenage victim was confronted by a male with a gun just before 8 p.m. and was sexually assaulted behind a nearby business.
Conti said the October incident is still under investigation, but that they are not ruling out Bryant as a suspect.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated police officers encountered Bryant at the scene of the September alleged sexual assault when they heard him say a notable phrase. This has since been corrected.