Blotter


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.

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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 .

Solo robber hits Vandergrift Dollar General along Franklin Avenue

posted May 2, 2019, 5:31 AM by Joseph Gray

  
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Vandergrift police are searching for a man who robbed the Dollar General on Franklin Avenue Tuesday night.

A clerk was restocking shelves when a tall man walked in. He held his left hand in the pocket of a hooded sweatshirt he was wearing and “acted like he had a gun,” Officer Bill Moore said.

The man was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. A white and black bandana was tied over his face and the hood was also pulled up.

The robber also wore sunglasses, Moore said.

Police wouldn’t say how how much cash was taken from the store.

However, Moore said DNA samples were taken and submitted to the crime lab.

Police were spending Wednesday morning collecting images from numerous surveillance cameras, he said.

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 .

Plum woman accused of punching, kicking Vandergrift police is Megan’s Law offender

posted Apr 11, 2019, 7:16 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Apr 11, 2019, 7:17 PM ]

  
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Courtesy of Vandergrift police
Candy Yockey

A 41-year-old Plum woman registered as a sex offender under Megan’s Law is accused of assaulting two Vandergrift police officers on Sunday.

Candy Yockey of Ivory Avenue is accused of punching one officer and kicking another when they responded to a report of a woman bleeding from her mouth along the side of a road.

According to arrest papers, a woman told police she was giving Yockey a ride home from a party because Yockey was drunk. During the ride, the woman told police, Yockey began to punch her so she pulled over at Hamilton and Franklin avenues and removed Yockey from her car.

The woman told police Yockey injured her mouth while she was being pulled from the car.

“Officers arrived to find an extremely intoxicated woman. They found she was bleeding from her face,” said police Chief Joe Caporali.

According to police, they made arrangements to transport Yockey to a friend’s house but, when they arrived there, police say Yockey told them she wanted to go back to state prison.

According to the police report, she asked, “What do I have to do to go to state prison? I’m going to punch one of you,” she told police.

The report says Yockey then punched one officer and kicked a second officer.

Police arrested Yockey and charged her with two counts of aggravated assault on police officers.

Yockey was arraigned in Westmoreland County night court and released on $1,000 bond pending a hearing on the charges next week.

Yockey has served time in a state prison and is listed on the state’s Megan’s Law offender list.

Court records show that, in April 2000, she started a two- to six-year prison sentence for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. She served the maximum time and, in January 2006, was released.

She was sent back to state prison in October 2010 for failure to comply with sexual offender registration on the previous case and released in January 2014.

She must report to state police for life.

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

Police: Vandergrift man robbed by 3 others — including an armed boy, 15

posted Apr 11, 2019, 7:12 PM by Joseph Gray

  
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Two Vandergrift men and a teen are charged with armed robbery and other counts in the holdup of another resident.

Officer Bill Moore said the incident took place Friday afternoon along the 100 block of Custer Avenue.

He said the victim, a man in his early 30s, went to visit Daniel Baker, 30, at his home along Custer Avenue, where Nathaniel Beer, 37, and a 15-year-old boy were waiting for him.

Moore said Beer showed a knife, the boy showed a gun and Baker went through the man’s pockets, taking $30.

Beer and the boy then took the victim to his home along Longfellow Street, where they attempted to steal more money.

Moore said the man was able to get inside and keep the suspects out.

Police arrived and captured Beer and the boy after a brief chase. Baker was arrested at his home.

All three are charged with armed robbery, simple assault, theft and receiving stolen property.

Baker and Beer were taken to Westmoreland County jail, and the boy was taken to a juvenile detention center.

The boy is being charged as an adult. Police declined to release his name.

No injuries were reported.

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

Vandergrift Police Department "2018 Feed The Families Project"

posted Nov 26, 2018, 6:55 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Nov 26, 2018, 6:58 PM ]


            On behalf of the Vandergrift Police Department I would like to personally thank the public for its generosity in helping the police department with the 2018 “Feed the Families Project.”

 

The police department was able to feed over 35 families this year and without your faith, hope and love for our community, this would not have happened.

 

            Thank you once again…

 

Sincerely

 

Ofc Joe Gray

 

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

 

1 Corinthians 13:13


Contributors:

Jones Turkey Farm

G n G Restaurant

Tees n Tops

AJ's Restaurant

Sweet Lane Sweet Shop

1st Baptist Church of Vandergrift

First Catholic Slovak Ladies Assoc. J126 

Good News Center

Councilwoman Kathy Chvala

Councilman Lenny Collini

Cary Rigatti

Brenda Gray

Kelly Gray

David & Marilee Kessler

Linda Murry

Julia & Terry Martin

and the many private and anonymous donators

Woman charged with fatally shooting man in Vandergrift home

posted Oct 19, 2018, 4:39 AM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Oct 19, 2018, 4:41 AM ]

     

Vandergrift Police investigate the report of a man shot at a residence in the 500 block of Longfellow Street on Thursday night, Oct. 18, 2018.
Michael DiVittorio | Tribune-Review
Vandergrift Police investigate the report of a man shot at a residence in the 500 block of Longfellow Street on Thursday night, Oct. 18, 2018.


A woman living in the Vandergrift home where a man was shot to death late Thursday night has been arrested on homicide charges, authorities announced.

Police responding to the 500 block of Longfellow Street shortly after 10 p.m. found a man dead from a gunshot wound when they arrived, according to emergency officials.

The incident was initally reported to 911 as a home invasion. But investigators determined that the victim was visiting Ashley Croft, who lived in the home, Vandergrift police chief Joseph Caporali told reporters.

The chief said Croft was interviewed by Westmoreland County detectives and will be charged today with criminal homicide.

No additional details were available about Croft’s relationship to the victim or what lead to the shooting.

The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the victim’s identity.

Tony LaRussa and Michael DiVittorio are Tribune-Review staff writers.

Police: Homeless couple ran meth lab at Vandergrift home of person who took them in

posted Oct 18, 2018, 4:49 AM by Joseph Gray



A man and woman are accused of starting a meth lab in a home on Vandergrift’s Franklin Avenue shortly after the homeowner invited them to stay there because they were homeless.

Kiell Thomas Freeman and Tia Charmagne Klazon, both 32, face felony charges of operating a methamphetamine lab and risking a catastrophe and misdemeanor counts including reckless endangerment and drug offenses.

Court documents say Franklin Avenue homeowner Mary Iverson invited Freeman and Klazon to stay at her home because they were homeless.

Within two days of Klazon and Freeman moving in, Iverson told police she became suspicious of their behavior. She said she saw them carrying numerous garbage bags into her attic, and she later found numerous ingredients and other items there that she believed were related to making meth, according to court documents.

Police arrested Klazon at Iverson’s home on Monday. A search of Klazon’s belongings turned up a notebook containing a list of items consistent with making meth, and products and byproducts used in making meth were found in the attic, police said.

It was not known when or where Freeman was arrested.

Vandergrift police did not return messages. A phone message left on a number listed for Iverson wasn’t immediately returned.

Preliminary hearings for Freeman and Klazon are scheduled for Oct. 30 — Freeman before District Judge Cheryl Peck-Yakopec and Klazon before District Judge L. Anthony Bompiani.

Both were being held in Westmoreland County Prison after failing to post $100,000 bail.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.


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