TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A day after a fire prompted a lockdown in a quiet residential neighborhood, questions remain over the man who died in the blaze that police say he set. Neighbors describe 60-year-old Joe Hollywood as a unique individual, and now they want to know more about the man.
Police say Joe Hollywood died of smoke inhalation, and had “no sign of self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Police say Hollywood was found with an oxygen tank and long gun. They say he positioned himself “to engage any police that came looking for him.”
Investigators will finish working at the scene and recover any weapons that need to be disposed of properly. The process of demolition on the remaining structure has already started.
It was just after 9 a.m. Monday when Town of Tonawanda Police were called by a distraught girlfriend. Town of Tonawanda Police Lieutenant Nick Bado said, “She was stating ‘He’s going to kill me. He’s got a gun.”
Police responded to the burning home in full force on Fries Road near Eggert Road. Neighborhood resident Jason Conkling said, “They all had guns drawn, there were probably 20 cops at least, if not more.”
His girlfriend did get out unharmed, but the hours that followed affected the entire neighborhood. Police used the reverse 911 system to call residents within a quarter of a mile of Hollywood’s home to warn them of the danger and tell them to remain inside.
Six hours after the fire began, police had indication that Hollywood may have fled to a nearby home on Mayfield Avenue. SWAT teams searched that home as well. Local schools were told to keep children for an hour after dismissal, until the neighborhood was safe, but shortly before 5 p.m. investigators found the body of Joe Hollywood in the basement of his burned out home.
Hollywood’s birth name was Joe Bryniarski. He was a graduate of Kenmore East High School.