Evans police said Sunday that they are “definitely making progress” in their probe into a controversial hit-and-run killing that has upset many people in the town.
But the lead investigator in the case said he cannot guarantee that an arrest will be made, and he said police would welcome more help from the public.
Police said they are still focusing the investigation on the owner of a gray 2013 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle that struck and fatally injured Barry “Bob” Moss, 52. Moss was struck on Route 5 near the intersection at Gold Street very early on the morning of Dec. 22.
“We’re definitely making progress. We have had some people come forward with information. We’ve executed more than one search warrant for information in this case,” said Lt. Douglas Czora, who heads the Evans Police detective unit. “We’d still like more witnesses to come forward.”
One of the witnesses who has come forward is another motorist who spotted the damaged Ford SUV near the accident scene, soon after Moss was struck and fatally injured, Czora said.
The individual was upset because the driver of the Ford SUV drove in front of him and “cut him off,” Czora said. “This other motorist followed the SUV and saw the SUV pull into the driveway of the SUV’s owner,” the lieutenant said.
Police have never publicly named the SUV’s owner, but several sources close to the investigation confirmed that the vehicle is owned by Gabriele Ballowe, 48, of Angola. She is identified in State Liquor Authority documents as one of the liquor license holders of the South Shore Beach Club, a popular beachfront bar on Old Lakeshore Road in Angola.
Her attorney, Thomas J. Eoannou, said he has communicated with the Erie County District Attorney’s office about the accident and about Ballowe’s vehicle, which was impounded by police after the accident.
“The investigation is at an early stage. We can’t really say where it’s heading right now,” Eoannou told The Buffalo News on Sunday.
He said he could not comment on whether Ballowe or someone else was driving the vehicle that night.
Eoannou said he was surprised to hear that police have spoken to another motorist whose vehicle was allegedly cut off by the same SUV that struck Moss.
“I’ve never been made aware of that information before, by any source, official or unofficial,” Eoannou said.
While Evans Police have issued several statements and news releases about the hit-run accident, both the police chief and the town supervisor have turned down Freedom of Information requests from The News, seeking reports on the incident. Evans officials have claimed disclosure of the reports could harm the ongoing investigation.
Some town residents have been highly critical of police because no arrests have been made.
Speaking to The News on Sunday, Czora asked anyone with any knowledge about what happened that night to contact him at 549-3600. He said police are determined to find out what happened.
“We’re still working very hard on this investigation, working on it every day,” Czora said.
Moss, well-known in Evans as a handyman, was the divorced father of three grown daughters. He had been visiting friends on the night of the accident, and he was believed to have been riding or walking his bicycle when the SUV struck him, probably sometime between midnight and 1 a.m.
The owner of the SUV took it to a collision shop in Dunkirk – about 20 miles south of Evans – for repairs after the accident, authorities said.
Moss’s mother, Charlotte Moss, and his sister, Maria Wrafter, said the unsolved hit-and-run accident has caused great anguish for their family. They said they are convinced several people in the community know what happened and have not told police.