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Hearing postponed for Elizabeth Township suspect in convenience store robberies

| Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, 3:41 a.m.

A White Oak robbery victim's family emergency delayed a preliminary hearing scheduled Monday for an Elizabeth Township man accused of robbing two convenience stores.

Jeffrey Betters, 45, of Greenock is in Allegheny County Jail still awaiting appearances before magisterial district judges in White Oak and McKeesport in connection with the heists.

White Oak police charged Betters with carrying a firearm without a license, unlawful possession of firearms, robbery, recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats for a robbery at the Sunoco gas station along the 2900 block of Fifth Avenue on July 29 around 7:54 p.m.

His hearing before Thomas Miller is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 1:30 p.m.

McKeesport police charged Betters with robbery, unlawful possession of firearms, terroristic threats, theft by unlawful taking and recklessly endangering another person in connection with an armed robbery at the Sunoco station along the 2100 block of Walnut Street on July 30 at 1:39 a.m.

His hearing before Eugene Riazzi Jr. will be Sept. 9 at 1 p.m.

According to the criminal complaint, the manager of the White Oak store told responding officers that he was robbed by a masked man threatening to shoot him if he did not hand over money.

A witness who followed the suspect's vehicle on Pennsylvania Avenue, but lost sight of it told police the robber was driving a silver sedan, which matched the description of Betters' vehicle, police said.

A clerk at the McKeesport store told police a masked man demanded money, then fled when the clerk complied.

Betters was arrested during a high-speed police chase on July 30 and was deemed a person of interest in the two robberies, and in another in Elizabeth Township.

The chase began at about 10:30 a.m. when state parole agents attempted to apprehend Betters for a violation as he was dropping off his wife at work along the 3600 block of Walnut Street.

Betters fled through McKeesport, White Oak, North Versailles Township, East McKeesport and Wall, and stopped in a parking lot on the WPCB television studio grounds along Signal Hill Drive.

Charges of recklessly endangering another person, aggravated assault, fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest and reckless driving were held for court by Riazzi on Aug. 12.

According to court records, officers obtained search warrants for Betters' house and vehicle and found a cash register drawer they believe was taken from the McKeesport store, and several articles of clothing matching descriptions by the robbery victims.

Elizabeth Township and county police are trying to determine if Betters was involved in a July 29 robbery shortly before 11 p.m. at the American Natural station along Smithfield Street in Boston. No charges have been filed.

Betters' bail for the McKeesport robbery is $25,000, and $50,000 for White Oak.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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