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Tarentum police hunt store robber

| Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 1:43 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
A security camera photo of the alleged suspect in the robbery of Tarentum Beverage Mart on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Submitted
Alleged robbery suspect Devontez Lanail Wilson, 20, of Penn Hills is apprehended by Tarentum Police at 508 East Eighth Ave. in Tarentum on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Tarentum Police investigate a robbery at the Tarentum Beverage Mart along East Sixth Avenue on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

A Penn Hills man is accused of robbing a Tarentum beer distributor Tuesday where the store clerk said he was a regular customer.Devontez Lanail Wilson, 20, was found hiding in a closet in an East Eighth Avenue apartment at about 5:15 p.m., about five hours after the robbery.

That's just a few blocks from the Tarentum Beverage Mart, in the 300 block of East Sixth Avenue, which police say Wilson robbed.

He faces robbery, theft and other charges, Tarentum police Chief Bill Vakulick said.Wilson is accused of flashing a BB gun that looks like a real revolver.

In an interview with the Valley News Dispatch, clerk Vasu Dev said that he recognized the robber. He said the suspect showed him a pistol, but didn't point it at him.

“He asked me to pull out the (cash) drawer and give him big bills and I did,” Dev said. “... He would come in every two to three days to buy cigars.”

The suspect was last seen walking away, along East Sixth Avenue.

Police said the robber's image was captured on surveillance cameras at the beer distributorship and other nearby stores.

“We had good photos and we used them,” Vakulick said. “After a couple of hours, we got a tip.”

The clerk picked an image out of a photo line-up. By then, they also had a possible location for the suspect.

Wilson didn't come to the door, so police went inside.

“We found him inside closet and had to pull him out,” the chief said.

Police found the BB gun like the one the clerk saw, and most of what is believed to be the stolen cash.

Vakulick declined to say how much money was recovered.In addition to robbery and theft, Wilson, who has also lived in Wilkinsburg, is charged with reckless endangerment, simple assault and receiving stolen property.

Wilson was taken Tuesday evening to Allegheny County Night Court to be arraigned.

According to court records, Wilson was placed on accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD), a form of probation for first-time offenders, for simple assault in Rochester, Beaver County The two-year ARD order started in December 2011.

Last July, he pleaded no contest for receiving stolen property in Rochester and was again put on probation.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

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