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Suspect in custody in Leechburg bank robbery

| Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, 3:17 p.m.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Leechburg police chief Mike Diebold, left, and Armstrong County Sheriff Deputy Chris Laird look over the front of F&M Bank along Market Street after it was robbed on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Pennsylvania State Troopers and an F&M Bank security guard, right, search along the sidewalk on Market Street in Leechburg after the bank was robbed on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Leechburg police officer Jason Schaeffer, left, and Armstrong County Sheriffs Deputy Chris Laird search along 2nd Street in Leechburg after a robbery at the F&M Bank along Market Street on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Clifton Chapin is led to his arraignment on bank robbery charges by Leechburg Police on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.

Leechburg police charged an Etna man with trying to rob the same bank on Friday that he allegedly held up just eight days ago.

According to police, Clifton Chapin, 50, of 32 Wilson St., Etna confessed to entering the Farmers & Merchants Bank at 160 Market Street at about 1 p.m. Friday with the intent to rob it.

He was wearing the same type of blue ball cap he allegedly wore in surveillance photos from the July 31 robbery.

In July, he allegedly passed a note to a teller that suggested he had a gun.

On Friday, he didn't get that far.

Police Chief Mike Diebold said an armed security guard was in the bank lobby when he saw Chapin walk in. When the guard approached Chapin, he immediately fled through the double glass doors and ran down Market Street, Diebold said.

Witnesses told police the man ran onto Bridge Street and onto River Avenue before getting into a van parked nearby.

Police said he was seen getting inside a white box van with a license plate of YMT 9534. The van had the name “Hite Electric” on it.

Police gave Armstrong County 911 the van's description and said it probably was heading to Etna, where, according to its website, The Hite Co. has an office at 450 Butler St.

Just before 2 p.m., state troopers saw the van along Route 28 near the Fox Chapel exit.

The van was pulled over and Chapin was taken into custody as a suspect.

Meanwhile, police asked witnesses to look at numerous surveillance photos and a photo array.

Diebold said the man was identified by witnesses and both the July 31 and Friday bank surveillance photos.

An official for The Hite Co. told police that Chapin was an employee but had no reason to be in Leechburg.

Chapin was arraigned on Friday night by District Judge James Andring in Leechburg and ordered held in the Armstrong County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Many customers who tried to enter the F&M Bank branch on Friday afternoon were thunderstruck.

“This is pretty bizarre,” said Traci Rattay, of Gilpin.

“I think this is pretty sad,” added Lisa Sydorick, also of Gilpin, minutes later.

“He didn't think they'd get him,” said Joe Enrico, who said he lived much of his life in Leechburg. “People today are crazy,” said his wife, Cha Enrico.

According to court records, Chapin was sentenced to 12 months of probation for unauthorized use of a vehicle and receiving stolen property in 2013. He was ordered to pay almost $1,000 in restitution in that case.

Staff writer Mary Ann Thomas contributed. Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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