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Would-be robbers thwarted when Indiana County restaurant owner, patrons tackled 2 men

| Sunday, April 28, 2013, 11:41 p.m.

Two would-be robbers were thwarted in the act on Saturday when an Indiana County restaurant owner and patrons tackled the men, according to state police.

Bin Zheng, who owns King Buffet at 2401 Oakland Ave. in White, said it was the first robbery attempt in the restaurant's 16-year history.

The incident began shortly before 3 p.m., as Zheng's 17-year-old niece was working as a cashier.

“They gave her a piece of paper,” Zheng said on Sunday.

The two men, identified as Jeremia Fromme, 22, of Ernest and Adam Wilson, 26, of Indiana placed a handwritten note on the counter demanding money, state police said.

Fromme told the girl, “Just do it, just do it,” police said

When she hesitated, police said, Fromme lifted the front pocket of his shirt, which had an item in it that the cashier thought was a gun.

The girl gave him money from the register, police said.

Zheng said that as his niece hesitated, she managed to make eye contact with a pair of regular customers, a husband and wife, who were next in line at the register.

“I was cleaning tables. The (female) customer said. ‘There is something wrong. I see a robbery,'” Zheng said.

He saw two men grab money and attempt to leave.

“I grabbed one. The customer (male) grabbed one. They tried to run. My brother-in-law came out, and my brother. We got them down and called 911,” Zheng said.

Police said the two had a vehicle outside with its engine running.

“They tried to break away. I have some bruises on my arm. We held them until the police came. They came pretty quick,” Zheng said.

“We were lucky. Everybody is safe. I could tell they did not have a weapon. If they had had a gun, I would not have done it,” Zheng said.

Fromme did not display a weapon, he said, apparently gesturing at his pocket as if he was carrying a gun.

Zheng said about half a dozen tables in the restaurant were occupied at the time.

More customers came to assist when they realized what was happening, he said.

“My niece — she was not supposed to work (Saturday). She was scared, a little bit. She did a good job,” Zheng said.

Fromme and Wilson confessed to the robbery, according to a state police news release.

Fromme is charged with robbery, theft, criminal conspiracy and simple assault.

Wilson is charged with criminal conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit theft.

Both remained in the Indiana County Jail on Sunday, administrators there said.

Zheng said the two had been handed a $100 bill and three $20 bills from the register.

“We got our money back,” he said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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