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Weapons cache forces evacuations in Yonkers

September 6, 2012 2:09:10 PM PDT
Several assault rifles and ammunition were found in the basement of a Yonkers home, prompting an evacuation of the block.

Yonkers police and federal agents made the shocking discovery of numerous rifles, handguns, high capacity magazines and 5000 rounds of ammunition in a basement storage locker inside an apartment building.

"Saw something suspicious and called the police. They open it up. And they found what they found," landlord Ilia Tcharnyi said.

Tcharnyi went to open the locker he rented out because he says the man had not paid the rent since last December.

"I didn't suspect. The guy was looking like a normal type contractor," he said.

But that stash, investigators reveal, also contained police badges and identification and potentially dangerous military smoke canisters.

Nearly two dozen residents of Alder Street were evacuated late Wednesday afternoon as a precaution.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes about 12 hours later, after authorities determined there were no hazardous condition in the house.

"It was extremely scary and I'm just glad it's all back to normal and everyone is safe," resident Yarin Montanez said.

Sources tell Eyewitness News, the large cache of weapons is allegedly tied to suspect Antonio Olmeda who currently is being held on Rikers Island on attempted murder charges.

He is accused of shooting at two NYPD officers last December in Queens after they stopped him in broad daylight and were questioning him about a disguise and fake beard he was wearing. Olmeda fired at them three times. The officers were not injured.

After staking out his vehicle in Manhattan in late December police arrested Olmeda and surprisingly discovered police style lights and a siren and an NYPD parking placard.

At the time, police suspected he had stashed more guns and paraphernalia at a storage facility - that stash only coming to light when the Yonkers landlord became suspicious.

"It's very scary. Very scary. Very frightened, very close, very close," Tcharnyi said.

On the record, Yonkers police said no one had been charged because they had not established who owned the guns.

"It could be the person that rented the space, it could be someone else who's responsible," said Detective Lt. Patrick McCormack. "We're still investigating."

He would not say Olmeda is a suspect.

FBI spokesman Peter Donald said that there was no indication of terrorism so far. Agents were dispatched to the scene "out of an excess of caution," he said.

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Some information from The Associated Press.

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