Blotter


Vandergrift man accused of hitting girlfriend with hammer during argument

posted Jan 21, 2020, 3:36 PM by Joseph Gray


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Westmoreland County Prison
Thomas Andrew Funkhouser



A Vandergrift man accused of hitting his live-in girlfriend in the head with a hammer allegedly told police he only “nicked her.”

Police said Thomas Andrew Funkhouser, 34, had fresh blood on his hands when officers arrived at a Grant Street apartment at about 12:30 a.m. last Thursday.

His girlfriend, police said, had a “large mark” on the middle of her forehead, including a “one-inch laceration that was bleeding.”

The woman, police said, told them Funkhouser accused her of cheating on him, a complaint she said he often makes.

According to police, the woman told them Funkhouser grabbed the hammer and said, “You better tell me now whether you did or not or I’m gonna end you now.”

Funkhouser is charged with aggravated and simple assault, making terroristic threats, harassment and domestic violence.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28.


Chuck Biedka

Chuck Biedka  
TribLIVE's Daily and Weekly

Christmas 2019

posted Jan 9, 2020, 8:39 PM by Joseph Gray


Once again it has been a blessed Christmas season. The Vandergrift Police Department were able to provide four families with Christmas dinners and Christmas gifts under the tree for some very deserving children.

 

In addition to the Adopt-a-family program the police department along with the help of Kiski Area East Primary Principle Marchand were able to give the school 500 pairs of new socks for students. 

 

On December 22nd a donor came into the police station with a monetary gift and it was explained that the gifts and meals had already been bought and given away, and there was no need for the money at this time. The generous donor still insisted on giving the money for helping the community in the future. December 23rd Officers were dispatched to the area of the railroad tracks in East Vandergrift, where officers found a young man from out of state walking along the tracks, waiting on relatives from Texas to come to Pennsylvania to pick him up the next day, Christmas Eve. Officers tried repeatedly to reach out to different groups to get a meal and a place for the young man to stay for the night with negative results. In addition to being hungry and not having a place to stay. The Males shoes were falling off of his feet due to poor condition. One of the officers on scene made a call and was able to gain access to the money that had been given the day before by the generous donor. The Officer then made arrangements with a local motel to put him up for the night and also provided him a meal. The officer then went to the Dollar General and bought him a pair of boots so he would have something decent to walk in.   

 

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

 

Fred Rogers

 

Thank you to the following generous businesses, organizations, families and anonymous donors.

 

J.V. Rigging Inc.

Beneficial & Brotherly Love Society

First Catholic Slovak Ladies Assoc. J126

HeadLine Hair Salon

1st Baptist Church Vandergrift

1st United Methodist Church Vandergrift

Dunmire – Kerr & Rowe Funeral Home, Inc

Council President Kathy Chvala & Family

Councilman Lenny Collini & Family

G n G Restaurant

Tees n Tops

A.J.’s Restaurant

Brenda Gray & Kelly Gray

Linda Toy

Emily Saxion & Family

Denise Lewandowski – George & Family

David and Marilee Kessler & Family

Bill & Marie Knotaitis

Diane Larrieu

Theresa Geltz & Family

Debbie Spiher & Family

Chris and Ashleigh & Family

Supansic Family

 

Thank you once again for your generosity in making the world a better place. Have a healthy and safe 2020

 

From the Vandergrift Police Department…

 



Vandergrift Community Watch provides Thanksgiving dinner to 40 families

posted Nov 29, 2019, 8:09 AM by Joseph Gray





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Vandergrift police Officer Joe Gray and former councilman Brian Carricato fill boxes with turkey dinners for needy families in 2016.

Forty families in Vandergrift will have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this week thanks to the town’s Community Watch and donations from community establishments.

The Vandergrift Community Watch organized Thanksgiving packages for the families, complete with turkeys, potatoes, vegetables and more.

In the four years his group has been putting on this event, Vandergrift police Officer Joe Gray said this is the largest number of families it’s been able to feed.

Gray, leader of the watch group and coordinator of the Thanksgiving packages, said this project is an opportunity to go beyond the everyday duties of a police officer.

“Part of policing is caring about your community and helping your community flourish,” Gray said.

The group began gathering supplies in September.

Donations of food, canned goods and money came from St. Vincent DePaul Society, students at North Primary School, Vandergrift First Baptist Church and several local establishments. Gray said organizing was helped by his family, Vandergrift Mayor Barb Turiak, Councilwoman Kathy Chvala and many Vandergrift police officers.

The 40 turkeys were donated by Jones Turkey Farm in the Cabot section of Winfield.

David C. Jones, the turkey farm owner, said he’s given every year to the Community Watch’s cause. He also donates turkeys to local churches during the holidays, and when customers come to the farm short on money, he said he will often give them a turkey anyway.

The large turkey donation is really what allowed the Community Watch to arrange so many packages, Gray said.

Four years ago, Gray said the group made packages for only five families. The next year, they made 20 packages; the year after that, they made 35. He is hopeful that the program can continue to grow.

“We’re grateful for all we get,” Gray said. “People are very, very receptive to it, so we’re hopeful.”

Gray worked with school resource officers in the Kiski Area School District to identify families in need. Gray said most of the families receiving packages this year had no idea they would get one.

The Thanksgiving care packages are just one of the holiday care packages Gray organizes.

The Vandergrift Police Department also runs an “Adopt-a-Family” program for the Christmas season to provide a meal and gifts for a local family. Gray said this year’s family has already been “adopted.”

The department is accepting donations of money, food and toys.

Marilee Kessler, a regular participant of the Community Watch, was proud to see the town’s police force give their time and resources for a charitable cause.

“It’s just really nice to see that our police department is so very involved in the community and show that they’re here to support the community,” Kessler said.


Teghan Simonton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Teghan at 724-226-4680,

Vandergrift man jailed on drug possession charges

posted Nov 20, 2019, 9:17 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Nov 20, 2019, 9:18 PM ]




A Vandergrift man who police say attempted to flee from authorities was arrested Tuesday afternoon on charges of having suspected heroin and other narcotics.

Jerry Moore, 61, of Custer Avenue was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a suspended license, two counts of possession of controlled substances and two counts of possession with intent to deliver.

Vandergrift police Officer Nate Rigatti said he, Westmoreland County Detective John Clark and state parole agent Patty Joe Misho were going to Moore’s house to serve a search warrant just after 4 p.m. Tuesday when they spotted him driving in a nearby alley.

Rigatti said they knew Moore’s driver’s license was suspended due to previous incidents and they pulled him over. Moore attempted to run but was quickly subdued, according to Rigatti.

Investigators say Moore was carrying suspected heroin. In his house, they say they recovered suspected methamphetamine, about 190 packets of suspected heroin and $385 in cash.

Moore was arraigned by District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec. His preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 26.

He was jailed in the Westmoreland County Prison on Tuesday, unable to post $30,000 bond, according to online court documents.


Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Man remains hospitalized after Vandergrift shooting

posted Nov 6, 2019, 3:57 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Nov 6, 2019, 3:58 PM ]

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Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A man was shot Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, near Franklin Park. Police found him near Madison Avenue, and he was transported to a hospital.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A bloody footprint on West Madison Avenue in Vandergrift. A man was shot Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, near Franklin Park. Police found him near Madison Avenue, and he was transported to a hospital.


Authorities are investigating a shooting that happened Tuesday in Vandergrift.

A 20-year-old man was recovering Wednesday after being shot once in the leg, according to Vandergrift police Chief Joe Caporali.

Caporali said the shooting was reported around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Franklin Park. The 20-year-old man was found a short time later on the sidewalk about a block and a half away from the park, in the 100 block of East Madison Avenue.

What appeared to be bloody footprints remained visible on the pavement Wednesday.

“There was a lot of blood loss,” said Westmoreland County Detective John Clark.

Clark said the victim was in “stable condition in a hospital ICU” late Wednesday afternoon.

Doctors did not think the wound was life-threatening, but “he isn’t out of the woods yet,” Clark said.

Authorities did not identify the victim. No witnesses have come forward.

Police said the man was with other people at the park when an argument started between them. Investigators declined to give further information.

Vandergrift police and Westmoreland County detectives are investigating, Caporali said. County detectives were scheduled to revisit the scene to check for evidence.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 724-568-5507 or detectives at 911.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter .


Vandergrift police make big meth, heroin haul

posted Oct 26, 2019, 1:30 PM by Joseph Gray

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An Armstrong County man arrested Tuesday in Vandergrift is accused of having more than $11,000 of crystal methamphetamine and almost three “bricks” of heroin.

Monty Gene Smith II, 35, of West Lebanon Road, South Bend Township, was arrested without incident in a residence along the 300 block of Emerson Street just before 5 p.m.

About one pound, 6 ounces of meth was found inside a safe and elsewhere in the residence and a Chevrolet Geo Tracker being used by Smith, according to a police report.

Police said that much crystal meth sells for about $11,000.

The 148 heroin packets sell for about $10 each, or $1,480.

A woman who was there will be charged later with having a paraphernalia, Patrolman Nathaniel Rigatti said. He said Westmoreland County Detective John Clark helped on the case.

Smith is facing felony drug manufacturing and delivery or possession with intent to deliver charges, and misdemeanor possession or use.

Smith was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec and sent to the Westmoreland County Prison pending a Nov. 5 preliminary hearing.

He was ordered held on $3,000 bail.

After that hearing, Smith’s bail was increased to $50,000 for another meth case in front of District Judge Jason Buczak.

In that case, Smith and three others were charged last spring in Salem Township with having about 21 grams of meth.

The arrests were made March 15 along Route 22 in Salem Township. An SUV driver was pulled over by a trooper for allegedly speeding at 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Police say meth sales are increasing since a record bust by state police in 2018.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Police arrest man who claimed to see cougars in Vandergrift

posted Jul 11, 2019, 8:28 AM by Joseph Gray



A man is awaiting a preliminary hearing after he claimed to see two cougars nearby and then jumped over a lawn chair and charged police in Vandergrift.

Police are accusing Justin John Crofutt, 37, of Ford City, of aggravated assault on an officer, resisting arrest and being under the influence during the incident on July 2. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 16.

According to an affidavit, police were sent to the Popular Street area of Vandergrift for a man who neighbors said appeared under the influence and “acting strange.” The affidavit did not state whether police believed Crofutt was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

When police arrive, they ask Crofutt what was happening and, according to the affidavit, he replied that he was seeing two cougars.

An officer asked him to walk toward police.

That’s when, police say, Crofutt hurdled a lawn chair and ran at officers.

In response, an officer touched a Taser to Crofutt’s abdomen.

Police say Crofutt fell to the ground but soon started to roll over despite being told to stay on his stomach on the ground. When Crofutt started to get up, the same officer touched him with a Taser for 5 seconds, according to police.

Crofutt was arrested and handcuffed but resisted getting inside the police car, according to the arresting officer.

Crofutt was about half way into the car when he started to kick. An officer’s hand was injured, police said.

Details were not available from police if the officer was seriously injured.

A defense attorney is not yet listed on state court records for Crofutt.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Robbery with fake guns at Vandergrift park results in 2 arrests

posted Jul 11, 2019, 8:25 AM by Joseph Gray




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Two people are facing charges in connection with the robbery of a girl in Vandergrift’s Kennedy Park on Tuesday.

Police say Tavon Rasheed Williams, 20, who was staying at a Linden Avenue residence in the borough, and a 17-year-old accomplice approached the victim in the park along Jackson Avenue about 10:30 p.m.

Police say the victim told them Williams pulled out a gun, pointed it at her and said, “Give me whatever is in your bag.”

Police got a description and found Williams at the park’s basketball court.

According to police, Williams had a mesh book bag that contained a pellet or BB gun replica of a real pistol.

The 17-year-old had a silver revolver that was a pellet or BB gun, police said.

Both were taken into custody.

“You had to see these things,” Patrolman Joe Gray said. “They looked real, and they had the heft of real guns.”

Williams is charged with two counts of robbery and a count of simple assault.

He was arraigned Wednesday and sent to the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of bond pending a July 16 preliminary hearing by District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec.

Court records show he was still in jail Friday. There wasn’t an attorney listed in court papers Friday to represent Williams.

The 17-year-old alleged accomplice, a boy, is being charged as a juvenile, Gray said.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Surveillance cameras capture Vandergrift Dollar General robbery

posted May 8, 2019, 8:36 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated May 8, 2019, 8:38 PM ]

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Courtesy of Vandergrift police
A robber enters the Vandergrift Dollar General store on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in this surveillance photo made public by police.
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The search is continuing for a man who robbed the Dollar General store in Vandergrift last week.

Vandergrift police have released surveillance photos of the April 30 crime and are seeking tips regarding the case.

The photos show the robber entering and leaving the store in the 500 block of Franklin Avenue and standing at the cash register.

The robber held his hand inside the left pocket of a hooded sweatshirt to suggest he was holding a gun, but a gun wasn’t shown, according to Officer Bill Moore.

The images show the man was wearing a dark or gray hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. He had a white-and-black bandana over his face. He also wore sunglasses during the robbery.

Police have sent DNA samples to the crime lab for testing.

Chief Joe Caporali said police are seeking information from anyone who might have seen the man before or after the robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to call Vandergrift police at 724-568-5507 or 911.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Dump truck driver hospitalized after crashing into pole in Vandergrift; rubbernecker unharmed

posted May 2, 2019, 5:33 AM by Joseph Gray

  
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Michael DiVittorio | Tribune-Review
A dump truck crashed into a utility pole Wednesday afternoon at the corner Sherman Avenue and Second Street in Vandergrift. The driver was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

TribLIVE's Daily and Weekly email newsletters deliver the news you want and information you need, right to your inbox.

A dump truck driver was hospitalized after his vehicle struck a pole at Sherman Avenue and Second Street in Vandergrift.

The crash happened shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Police said the truck was traveling north on Sherman Avenue when it hit the West Penn Power utility pole near Steeltown Smokehouse. The accident is under investigation.

A pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction on Sherman Avenue stopped to look at the accident and was struck by a dark-colored sedan, police said.

The sedan was towed away but the pickup was driveable. No injuries were reported in the two-vehicle crash.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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