It was around 3 a.m. on Tuesday (9/17), when Brandon Burgess, age 28, of Lyons reportedly walked into a 7-Eleven in the area of Routes 14 and 318 in the Town of Phelps. He displayed what was thought to be a long gun or high-capacity weapon and demanded money and items from the clerk. No one was hurt.
Deputies say the weapon was later determined to be an Airsoft gun.
The incident lead to a three county manhunt, with the Ontario County and Wayne County Sheriff’s Offices conducting a massive search of Burgess last known residence in Lyons.
This, in turn, lead to the Lyons, Newark and Williamson schools being put into a lock down during the search on Tuesday, as deputies searched the area for signs of Burgess. Deputies escorted school buses home and Lyons Central Schools cancelled classes for Wednesday.
Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts said Tuesday’s lockouts at Newark, Lyons and Williamson were done out of an abundance of caution. He said deputies were investigating homes in the Lyons area. “We did not believe there was anyone in school to be a threat, but it was the walkers walking home and the students going home to community bus stops”.
To add to the situation, Burgess has several YouTube videos posted where he claimed he couldn’t be caught. Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson, added that the videos Burgess had posted to social media caused concern for law enforcement.“We took this as a very serious threat,” Henderson said at a news conference Wednesday. “The stability of this individual, there were some questions.”
Ontario County District Attorney James Ritts says Burgess may have had plans to evade authorities for a long time. “He had a number of locations, not sure the exact number, but what appeared to be hideout locations,” Ritts said. “These were places it’s alleged he was hiding to avoid apprehension.”
Throughout the remainder of Tuesday and in the early morning hours on Wednesday (9/18). police agencies in Wayne, Ontario and Seneca Counties were on alert.
Times newspartner 13WHAM reported that Burgess was featured in a report by 13WHAM’s sister station in Providence, R.I. last month. In the report, he was shown decorating a truck in his possession, getting ready for the “Storm Area 51” event in Nevada.
“People do not have the ability to be willing to give up everything to go, but I do,” he told WJAR in August.
Also, Burgess, who has a criminal history, including several DWIs and thefts, had been arrested by Newark Village Police last week on Thursday (9/12) for one count of Petit Larceny.
It is alleged that back on August 21, Burgess entered the Newark Walmart and stole a camping tent, cooler, comforter set and Max Life oil, ale valued at $311.43. At that time he reported his address as Ford Street in Newark.
Burgess was released on an appearance ticket on that charge for Newark Village Court on October 2.
Ontario County Deputies received a tip Wednesday (9/18) morning about Burgess being in a motor vehicle with another individual. While patrolling, Seneca Falls Police officer Jacob DeChick spotted the vehicle, turned around and stopped it.
At that point Burgess attempted to flee on foot, but was caught nearby. Burgess was located in Seneca County, in the area of Lower Lake Road. The sheriff added that a weapon was not found.
It was learned that Burgess mother, Tracy Burgess, was operating the vehicle. Her involvement is being reviewed by the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office.
Brooke Shaffer says she saw the Burgess run right past her home. “The truck driver stopped up there, and he just really quickly sprinted by,” she said. “I came out to check it out,” she continued, “and there was a guy running through our yard.”
Moments later came police with guns drawn. Shaffer says one of them yelled to her, asking which was the suspect went. “Just everyone running around, I’ve never seen someone get chased down before,” she said.
“It was a safe resolution and he (Burgess) was unharmed,” commented Sheriff Henderson.
On Wednesday afternoon Burgess was charged with Robbery in the Second Degree and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. Ontario County Deputies say the Grand Larceny charge relates to the theft of tools from a Phelps job site, valued at $2,800 on early Tuesday.
Burgess was arraigned, pled not guilty to the charges and is being held in the Ontario County jail on $75,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond. He is set to reappear in court Monday at noon, and the case will be presented to a Ontario County Grand Jury next Thursday.
“This was really a team approach,” said Sheriff Henderson, as he complimented the State Police, Palmyra Police Chief, Seneca County Sheriff’s office and the Seneca Falls Police Department. “We just wanted to get this guy off the streets. Numerous people have tried to get him the help he needs. This guy has the potential to be dangerous.
News Partner 13WHAM contributed to this story