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New Alexandria pizza shop robber gets no dough

| Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 12:22 a.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Diana Bates, owner of Di’s Pizza Grille in New Alexandria, describes how she slammed her fist on the counter when a would-be robber demanded money from the cash register. Bates refused, and the man fled.

A feisty 67-year-old grandmother thwarted an attempted robbery by facing down a hooded man who demanded money at her pizza shop in New Alexandria.

When a man demanded money from the cash register, Diana Bates, owner of Di's Pizza Grille, refused, pounded her fist on the counter and started to call 911.

The startled man ran out the door.

“He made me mad,” Bates said, recounting her story on Monday. “Those girls (employees) and I and my crew work hard for that money, and I'm not giving it.”

State police said the suspect came into the Route 22 restaurant on Friday evening wearing a hoodie pulled over his face.

Fridays are a busy night for the restaurant, Bates said, and the suspect walked in about 8 p.m. when the dinner rush began to slow.

He demanded that an employee open the cash register and give him money, police said. The employee replied that she could not.

“She said to him, ‘I don't know how to open the drawer,' ” Bates said.

The suspect told the employee to summon another waitress, and that woman said she could not open the register, either, police said.

That's when Bates walked over to the counter and asked if she could help the man.

“I thought the guy was complaining about a pizza,” Bates said. “Not expecting anything like that.”

But the would-be robber, trying to disguise his voice by changing pitch, demanded money, and Bates said she “slammed (her) fist. The girls said I made him jump.”

Employees told Bates that she also pointed her finger at him.

“He didn't count on me, that's for sure,” Bates said. “I'm sorry. I'm not giving in to these young punks.”

Bates said she wasn't scared — just angry.

“I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'll never back down,” she said. “I work too hard for that.”

The man did not mention a weapon and did not threaten to harm anyone, Bates said.

In the 10 years since Bates started the restaurant, no one had attempted a robbery, she said.

Police describe the suspect as an unshaven white man about 6 feet tall with a thin build. Police said he was wearing a black baseball cap and a camouflage-patterned, zippered hoodie with pockets where he kept his hands the entire time.

The suspect ran toward New Alexandria Borough, police said.

Police ask anyone with information to call 724-727-3434.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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