Restaurant video leads police to New Ken bank robbery suspect

Tom Yerace
| Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, 12:45 p.m.

The chicken and biscuits at Eazer's Restaurant and Deli in New Kensington apparently must be good.

So good that a man suspected of robbing the Citizens Bank two blocks away stopped his getaway to order some Wednesday.

That decision could cost Shane Lindsey, 32, of Franklin, Venango County, prison time, according to the New Kensington police.

Chief Tom Klawinski said Lindsey, an inmate at the Alle-Kiski Pavilion halfway house in Arnold, was apprehended at Eazer's about 15 or 20 minutes after the 11:55 a.m robbery.

Police said Lindsey confessed. He was arraigned in night court via video conference and sent to the Westmoreland County jail.

Klawinski said the suspect, a bald white man, about 5-foot-8 with a thin build, was wearing a red tassel cap, dark hooded jacket and jeans when he passed a holdup note to a Citizens Bank teller. After the teller complied, the robber left the bank, at Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street, and ran up Fifth toward Seventh Street.

The chief said the husband of a bank customer witnessed the robbery from the bank's vestibule.

The husband got in his car and followed the suspect as he ran up Fifth Avenue but lost him when traffic cut him off. However, Klawinski the tip helped police head in the right direction.

When Detective Sgt. Bob Deringer responded, he asked some men standing farther up Fifth Avenue if they saw someone fitting the description run up the street.

“They said, ‘Yeah, he was running like his pants were on fire,' ” Deringer said.

Deringer said he knew that Eazer's has surveillance cameras inside and outside the restaurant.

So he went there to ask owner Art Eazer to play the recent footage.

Sure enough, the exterior cameras showed a man dressed in dark clothing run up Fifth and then start down Seventh Street toward the Allegheny River.

But after just passing Eazer's Seventh Street entrance, the man stopped, turned and ducked into the restaurant.

Deringer said the man immediately headed to the restroom.

Meanwhile, Deringer said when he came in to review the video, he noticed a man sitting with another man in a booth about 20 feet away.

“He kept looking at me and I kept looking at him. And I'm thinking: ‘He kind of fits the description, he has a bald head.' ”

As the detective watched the video, any doubts he had vanished. When the suspect had left the restroom, the camera captured his face.

“Then, I see his face on the video and I said, ‘Holy crap! That's him!' ” Deringer said.

Using his cellphone, Deringer called the police station and told them to send more officers.

Waitress Brenda Patterson remembered when the man came in.

“He seemed nervous; he was pacing back and forth,” she said. “... I served him two cups of coffee. He ordered chicken and biscuits from another waitress.”

Patterson said the man had eaten only a couple of bites when he found himself confronted by several police officers.

“He told Bob he had the wrong guy, that he didn't do anything,” the chief said.

Klawinski said police searched the restroom wastebasket and found the robber's red tassel cap, the hood from his jacket and an undisclosed amount of cash.

The chief said Lindsey changed his tune after he was questioned at the station for about two hours and confessed.

The man sitting with Lindsey turned out to be a fellow Pavilion inmate, Deringer said. He was questioned but not detained.

Deringer and state Constable Tom Rushnock returned to the restaurant a few hours later looking for the robbery note, which Lindsey said he had thrown away. They sifted through the trash and the booth where the men sat to no avail.

Klawinski didn't immediately know where Lindsey was incarcerated before being sent to the Pavilion.

“I know he was in on a burglary, but he has an extensive rap sheet,” Klawinski said.

Deringer said that the suspect never showed a gun to the teller nor did the note indicate he had one.

“There was no threat of violence,” the detective said.

“Actually, he said ‘Thank you' to the teller,” Klawinski said.

Georgette Corbin, Eazer's mother and restaurant co-owner, said Lindsey was “not a new face,” although she didn't know him.

“I'm sure he was here before,” Corbin said.

If he never returns, that'll be fine with Patterson.

“I was just shocked,” Patterson said. “I've never experienced anything like that, and I've worked here 16 years.”

To top everything off, Corbin and Patterson said the suspected bank robber never paid the check for his chicken and biscuits.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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