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West Newton man charged in East Huntingdon Rite Aid robbery

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Friday, April 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A West Newton man is under arrest after he allegedly robbed a drug store and led multiple police departments on a car chase through several municipalities.

Zachary Allan Clausner, 32, of 136 Parker Road was charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking, terroristic threats, fleeing or attempting to elude police, recklessly endangering another person, tampering with/fabricating physical evidence and reckless driving at District Judge Charles Moore's office.

About 8:20 p.m. Monday, the robber walked into the Rite Aid Store/Pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant Township, took a shopping cart and walked to the pharmacy section.

He handed a pharmacist a note which read: “I have a gun ... stay calm. Don't make me hurt you. Give me all your Oxycodone in 15mg, 30mg and any Vic's (Vicodin).”

The pharmacist complied and handed the robber several bottles of Oxycodone. One of the bottles was a decoy that emits a signal.

The robber went to his vehicle to head to West Newton. Rite Aid officials contacted Westmoreland 911 and gave a location through the decoy. State police as well as police from Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale chased a car through East Huntingdon and South Huntingdon and West Newton where the driver exited his vehicle near his residence and fled on foot. Police thought he went into a wooded area or inside his residence, but the decoy bottle pointed police to Clausner hiding in his residence.

Clausner's wife returned home and was able to call him on his cell phone and have him surrender peacefully to police and hand over the pill bottles.

He told police that he took a handful of pills. He was transported to Excela Westmoreland to be checked by a physician. Police said he admitted to robbing the Rite Aid and also admitted he robbed the same Rite Aid two times in the past as well as the Rite Aid in Greensburg two times in December and the new Walgreens twice this year.

Clausner was lodged in the Westmoreland County Prison with bail set at $100,000. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled at 10:30 a.m. April 24 at Moore's office.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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