Business & Technology

Why Buffalo, New York’s Joseph Chowaniec threatened to shoot up Bocce Pizza like Tops Friendly Markets


Payton S. Gendron, 18, of Conklin, Broome County, New York, United States allegedly fatally shot 10 people and injured three others at Tops Friendly Markets on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, Erie County, New York on May 14, 2022. He surrendered to police officers who confronted him inside the supermarket.

At around 12:05 p.m. on May 15, 2022, Joseph Stephen Chowaniec, 52, of Buffalo allegedly made a phone call to Bocce Pizza, a pizzeria on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. While complaining about a pizza made earlier in the week, he allegedly threatened to “shoot up Bocce’s like the Tops on Jefferson,” which forced the pizzeria to close for the day.

Joseph Stephen Chowaniec (©Erie County Sheriff’s Office)
Joseph Stephen Chowaniec (©Erie County Sheriff’s Office)

At around 12:47 p.m., Chowaniec allegedly called Southern Tier Brewing Company, a brewery on Scott Street in Buffalo, and made additional threats referencing the recent shooting at Tops Friendly Markets. Later that day, policemen found him on a street corner holding a sign that read, “Uncle Sam dismantle white supremacy.”

Chowaniec was arrested and charged with one count of making a terroristic threat. He was held without bail pending the results of a forensic examination during his arraignment on the morning of May 16, 2022 before Buffalo City Court Judge Andrew C. LoTempio.

At 9:30 a.m. on May 20, 2022, Chowaniec will attend his felony hearing. If convicted, he faces a maximum seven years in prison.


It was not the first time Chowaniec was arrested. On February 28, 2008, he allegedly approached a sport utility vehicle, told the man inside the vehicle that he was a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and an undercover police officer and asked him to get out of the vehicle.

After taking $50 out of the man’s pocket, Chowaniec gave back $20 and kept the other $30. Chowaniec was arrested and charged with robbery and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

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