Reward offered in fatal Derry Township shooting
A $2,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a Penn Hills man accused of shooting and killing an Indiana County man during a botched robbery Saturday in Derry Township.
Trooper Steve Limani of state police in Greensburg said Crimestoppers is offering the reward for information leading to the arrest of Ronell Lamar Moses Jr., 20, of Hamilton Drive.
“Moses should be considered armed and dangerous,” Limani said Thursday. “We've been following up on several leads but so far have been unable to locate the suspect. We're hoping this reward persuades someone to come forward and provide us new information to enable us to make an arrest.”
Police said Moses shot and killed Michael Matthew Volk, 24, of Gamble Road, West Wheatfield, as Volk attempted to rob the Allegheny County man in a mobile home in Torrance.
Police have accused three others of conspiring to rob Moses, an alleged drug dealer whom they barely knew, of money and heroin. Moses was staying at 131 Quarry Road, just outside Blairsville, to sell drugs, police allege.
Danielle Leigh Clawson, 23, of West Wheatfield, told police she drove Volk, her boyfriend, to the Quarry Road home, where he planned to rob the man first identified by witnesses as “Mitch,” police said.
Limani said Thursday that police believe Moses was called “Mitch” only by his drug customers in the Blairsville and Derry Township areas.
Volk met up with Jesus Santiago, 42, who lived at the mobile home, and both men went inside, police said. Clawson left the residence with Santiago‘s girlfriend, Tiffany A. Blattenberger, 22, and they returned a short time later to find Volk lying dead inside, according to police.
“Santiago opened the door and was visibly upset,” a police affidavit said. “Santiago stated that ‘Mitch‘ had shot Volk.”
Police identified “Mitch” as Moses after disseminating a surveillance photo taken of Moses with Volk at the Wal-Mart along Route 22 near Blairsville Dec. 28, when he and Volk were at the store.
Clawson, Blattenberger and Santiago allegedly were held inside the mobile home at gunpoint by Moses, who demanded a cellphone. Moses got a ride and fled with the phone and a silver-colored handgun, police allege.
Blattenberger and Santiago's two young children were at home during the incident. The children are now with relatives, police said.
Volk was shot in the head and stomach, according to a criminal complaint. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Westmoreland County Coroner's office.
Moses is charged with homicide, kidnapping, unlawful possession of a firearm and terroristic threats.
Clawson and Blattenberger identified Moses as their intended robbery target and assailant from a photo line-up, police said.
Clawson, Blattenberger and Santiago are being held in the Westmoreland County jail without bail. All are charged with homicide, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. They were charged with homicide because they plotted the robbery that led to Volk‘s death, police said.
Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Jan. 9 before Derry Township District Judge Mark Bilik.
The group had just met Moses. Santiago told police he received a phone call Friday from a white male who said “Mitch” would be staying with Santiago to distribute narcotics, according to court documents. Moses was awaiting arraignment for a charge of flight to avoid apprehension filed by Pittsburgh police on Nov. 19, according to online court records. Moses posted $10,000 bond in August.
His arraignment, originally scheduled for Dec. 31, was rescheduled for Feb. 4.
Robbery charges filed against Moses by Pittsburgh police in July 2011 were withdrawn in August, according to court records.
C. Frederick Bowser Funeral Home in Homer City is in charge of private funeral services for Volk.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.