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Police: Suspect dressed as Spider-Man tries to rob Oakland store

| Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, 6:42 a.m.
photo courtesy of WPXI
Johnathan Hewson, 21, of Oakland was arrested in connection with an attempted robbery in Oakland. Prosecutors withdrew robbery charges against him Tuesday.

Oakland's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is in the county jail, accused of trying to rob a convenience store on Friday morning.

Pittsburgh police charged Jonathan Hewson, 21, of Oakland with robbing the Atwood Xpress on Atwood Street about 1:10 a.m. while wearing a Spider-Man costume and mask. Hewson is known for wearing his Spider-Man costume while climbing a rock wall or walking around outside, his roommate Adam Krauss said.

“Jon is a normal guy, and he loves Spider-Man,” said Krauss, 21. “He's known positively for it. People don't know it's him, but now he's been unmasked.”

Bob Patel, the clerk at Atwood Xpress, told police that a man walked in wearing a Spider-Man costume and loudly asked, “How much money you got?' according to the criminal complaint filed against Hewson. He did not have a weapon.

Patel told police that he thought he was being robbed and grabbed a stun gun from his pocket and tried to fire it at the Spider-Man.

The suspect fled, but officers broadcast his description, and a University of Pittsburgh police officer and a city police sergeant spotted Spider-Man about a block from the store. Patel identified the suspect as the man in the store, and police arrested Hewson.

Hewson's parents could not be reached for comment, but Krauss called the incident a misunderstanding. He said Hewson, a senior at Pitt, put on the costume after drinking and walked away from their house on Atwood on Thursday night.

Pitt spokesman John Fedele declined to comment.

“You drink, so you're going to make stupid decisions,” Krauss said. “Then you throw in a Spider-Man costume, and it's blown out of proportion.”

District Judge James Motznik arraigned Hewson on the robbery charge and ordered him to be held in the Allegheny County Jail on $50,000 bail. Motznik ordered a mental evaluation and for Hewson to be seen by the jail's behavioral clinic.

He did not have an attorney listed in court records.

“Because it's a robbery, it's a bigger crime,” Motznik said. “No matter what the details are, that's a robbery. That clerk doesn't know if there's a weapon involved. Those things are taken more seriously.”

Krauss said Hewson has never been in trouble with police before, and a search of online court records revealed no prior arrests.

“He's harmless, and he's well-loved,” said Krauss, who has lived with Hewson for two years. “He's just silly. He made a stupid mistake.”

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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