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Calm and quick Leechburg bank robber sought

| Thursday, July 31, 2014, 11:47 a.m.

A bank robbery occurred largely unnoticed in the middle of Leechburg's business district on Thursday morning.

Business owners and employees at shops near Farmers & Merchants Bank at 160 Market St. said they had been unaware that a man had robbed the bank at about 10:40 a.m.

Leechburg Mayor Shawn Lerch said the unidentified man was in and out of the bank in 59 seconds.

Described as being “very calm,” he presented a teller with a handwritten note saying he had a weapon, but did not show one.

The man's note, which was left behind, said he wanted cash and instructed the teller not to put a dye pack in with the money, according to Lerch.

The man got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. He fled the bank on foot and was last seen heading toward Second Street.

There were no customers in the bank, the mayor said, and no bank employees were hurt.

“Everyone is OK,” said Clem Rosenberger, F&M senior vice president and chief operating officer.

The bank closed after the robbery, and was expected to reopen Friday, according to a note posted on the bank's door.

Lerch said police approached people at every business around the bank. All said they had not seen or heard anything.

A few doors down on the same side of the street, Violet Stivason had been sitting at a card table outside another bank, First Commonwealth, selling charity and fundraising tickets. She said she had been there since 9 a.m.

“I didn't see anything. I was reading my book, I think,” she said as police began to investigate the holdup. “I wish I would've heard something, but I didn't.”

Immediately next door, Pat Kolezez, head designer at Ralph's Florist, said they didn't know a robbery had happened until a customer came in and told them.

“We had no clue. We've been so busy,” she said.

That it happened was surprising to many.

“It's a quiet little town most of the time,” Kolezez said.

Across the street, Coco Coffehouse owner Nikki Saxion found the prospect of a robbery so close to be “very scary.”

Saxion said she got to work around 8 a.m., and was probably back in her kitchen when the holdup happened. LIke the others, she said she hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary.

State police and the FBI were assisting in the investigation.

Except for a bright blue ball cap, the man did not obscure his face and was captured on surveillance video.

Lerch said Leechburg police are committed to solving the crime. Extra officers were put on duty, and more interviews were being conducted, he said.

“We're going to give it our all to catch him,” Lerch said.

Staff writer Chuck Biedka contributed to this report. Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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