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Woman robbed Pitcairn post office hoping police would shoot her, feds say

Natasha Lindstrom
| Thursday, March 1, 2018, 5:24 p.m.

A Pitcairn woman says she tried to rob a U.S. Post Office location because she wanted authorities to intervene and shoot her dead, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Now, she faces up to a decade in federal prison.

Kristen Risko, 23, has pleaded guilty to one count of attempted robbery, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said.

On July 21, 2016, Risko walked into the Pitcairn post office on Broadway Boulevard while holding what appeared to be a metallic object in her right hand, according to federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh. She wore a hooded, gray sweatshirt with the hood pulled up and large, dark sunglasses concealing her face.

Risko raised her right hand, with the object she was holding partially concealed by her sleeve, and pointed it at a postal clerk, officials said.

The clerk told investigators that Risko twice demanded he hand over all his money.

The clerk — who later told police he believed Risko had a knife — warned her as she moved closer that police would be arriving soon.

When the clerk backed away and moved behind a doorframe, Risko fled.

She did not take any money.

Officials said they identified and located Risko using surveillance video, including footage of her tossing her sweatshirt and sunglasses into a nearby residential yard.

When interviewed, Risko told U.S. postal inspectors “that she attempted to rob the post office as a way to commit suicide,” federal prosecutors said in a statement. “She believed that when police responded to the scene, they would come in and shoot her.”

The object in Risko's hand during the crime turned out to be a remote control for a space heater that Risko said she had thrown into a creek, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy prosecuted the case with help from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Pitcairn Borough Police Department.

Risko faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both.

U.S. District Judge David Cercone ordered Risko remain in custody until a sentencing hearing scheduled for July 25.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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