Robbery witnesses give hot pursuit in Tarentum
Tarentum police were questioning a man early Friday who they believe robbed a gas station at gunpoint before he was chased by good Samaritans into West Tarentum.
Police said they found the suspect in a house in the 200 block of West Ninth Avenue near the former site of Holy Martyrs church; his getaway car was found nearby.
“We're still putting everything together with the witnesses,” Sgt. Ryan Hanford said.
The suspect's identity was not yet available early Friday.
Hanford said no one was injured in the robbery or the pursuit.
Serena Buday of Tarentum said she watched the tall, thin, white man pace in the parking lot of the Marathon gas station near the Tarentum Bridge for about 10 minutes. She said he seemed anxious and kept fiddling with a bandana pulled over his chin.
Buday thought he looked suspicious with his bandana, hooded sweatshirts and gloves.
When he finally entered the store shortly after 9 p.m., Buday said she rolled her car forward in time to see him pull a gun from under his hooded sweatshirts and threaten the gas station manager, who was manning the counter.
When the apparent robber left the store with an undisclosed amount of money, Buday said her friends — including a second gas station employee who had been outside smoking during the robbery — yelled at the man as he ran toward East Seventh Avenue and Wood Street.
As Buday was calling 911, she said she tried to follow the suspect, hoping to knock him off his feet with her car.
“It was instinct,” Buday said when asked why she took the risk of following an armed man. “But I lost him.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Gabb of Cheswick said he was sitting at a traffic light on Ross Street when he saw the commotion outside the station and joined the chase, inadvertently cutting off Buday's car.
Gabb saw the suspect get into a green Saturn car and drive down East Ninth Avenue past Grandview Upper Elementary School toward Ross Street.
Gabb followed the car down Ross Street and right onto Seventh Avenue near Nick Chevrolet, where Gabb said the suspect nearly hit the wall at the base of the hill.
Gabb said he saw the Saturn turn right uphill into West Tarentum before he lost sight of it.
He briefly returned to the gas station, then cruised through West Tarentum in time to see a Harrison police officer investigating an empty car in a West Ninth Avenue parking lot beside the former church. Gabb was able to identify the green Saturn as the one he'd chased.
“I got lucky,” Gabb said.
Buday arrived on scene and identified the car.
Bystanders believed the suspect entered a house beside the church and ran out a back door onto an alley called Walters Way.
For more than an hour, Tarentum, Harrison and Brackenridge police searched the house, the vacant church and the surrounding area.
It was not clear whether the suspect was inside that house the entire time, later returned or was found in a different house.
As the car, which had a long scuff mark along the passenger side, was towed from the scene, a man came out of the house and questioned why police were taking the Saturn.
“It was involved in a crime,” was the answer from police, who indicated they planned to get a search warrant and go through the car.
Gabb confirmed two blue sweatshirts police found were worn by the alleged robber; police said a bandana was found in the car. It was not known if police recovered a gun or cash.
Josh Wentzel said he's seen the suspect in the neighborhood before, though he didn't know his name.
Wentzel said he is the son of the gas station's manager and was on his way to the store with the woman's 2-year-old son when he came upon the aftermath of the robbery.
“I saw (the alleged robber's car) come flying down the hill,” Wentzel said.
He said his mother has only worked at the store for a few months and had never been robbed before.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Out-of-control car strikes four vehicles, building in Verona
- Cause of devastating Allegheny Township fire ‘undetermined’
- Heating oil costs lowest in years
- Kiski Valley water authority, Allegheny Township dispute over School Road close to resolution
- Allegheny Township home destroyed by fire
- ATI claims operations, production meet expectations; workers refute statement
- Man found dead along Kiski Township trail
- ‘Restaurant: Impossible’ tackles New Kensington eatery
- New Kensington Council names new police chief
- Experts calling for late fall foliage bloom in Southwestern Pa.
- Deceased man identified in Murrysville wreck