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Gunman kills man outside South Strabane Giant Eagle after robbing bank

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By Matthew Santoni and Bill Zlatos
Sunday, June 16, 2013, 5:39 p.m.
 

Vincent “Mystro” Kelley heard screams on Sunday afternoon inside the South Strabane Giant Eagle and saw a man running from the grocery's Citizens Bank branch with a duffel bag and a gun.

Unlike other shoppers and employees, he did not run to the back of the store.

“Vincent took the lead; the only thing I was thinking was that I was going to back him up,” said Jared Cameron, 21, of Washington, a friend of Kelley's from the Brothers of the Hammer Motorcycle Club who said he was inside the supermarket with Kelley when the robbery took place. “We heard the scream, I pushed the buggy away, and (Kelley) went right after him.”

Kelley, 46, also of Washington, chased the man who had just robbed the bank into the store parking lot and tried to subdue him inside the thief's fleeing car. Cameron said his friend appeared to be reaching for a knife he carried when the robber shot Kelley several times and killed him during the getaway about 2:30 p.m..

“I've been here 40 years, and I never had any situations like this in a bank,” said South Strabane police Chief Donald Zofchak. “We've had some robberies over the years, but nothing where somebody's life was taken.”

Police were searching for the thief but had only a vague description of him and his car.

The robber drove around the back of the store, where Kelley either fell or was pushed from the car as it drove off, Cameron said.

“I certainly applaud a citizen's efforts to help society, but you see the ramifications. It cost him his life,” Zofchak said.

Friends and family gathered at Kelley's home hours later said it was just like him to leap into action when he saw something wrong.

“That was just Mystro. He would always be stepping in, trying to break up fights,” said Kathy Bugaile, 44, who described Kelley as her best friend.

When he was out riding with the club on his Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Mean Streak, he was often decked out in jewelry and a black top hat.

He earned his nickname while working for Buckhannon, W.Va.-based ATOS Corp. on gas drilling pad sites: One day the workers' radio was broken, so Kelley sang a cappella all day until a boss told him, “‘Hey, Maestro, knock it off!'” said Jimmy Tilger, 24, another friend from the motorcycle club.

Kelley spelled it “Mystro.”

Officials at ATOS Corp. could not be reached.

Kelley had a daughter, Sierra, 19, and a 9-month-old grandson, Romeo, Bugaile said. She did not know where they were living.

Police were looking for a white four-door compact sedan driven by the robber, said District Attorney Eugene Vittone and South Strabane Detective Mike Schidlmeier. It likely has red paint inside from an exploding dye pack in the money he took from the bank, Schidlmeier said.

Zofchak said police are working on gathering a license plate number and checking cameras in the bank.

Authorities taped off part of the back parking lot and the entrance to the pharmacy. At 5 p.m., the remainder of the store, including the pharmacy, was doing business as usual, except for the sports merchandise area.

Zofchak said the robber wore a mask and possibly did other things to hide his identity.

“Right now, the description is vague because of the disguises,” he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call South Strabane police at 724-225-8111.

Zofchak could not say how much was stolen from the bank. He said there was no altercation with the teller, but given the location, the robbery and shooting could have resulted in more casualties.

“We got one loss, but it probably could have been a lot more,” he said.

Matthew Santoni and Bill Zlatos are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Santoni can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com. Zlatos can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

 

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