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2 charged with setting van fire in Vandergrift

posted Oct 26, 2012, 4:20 AM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Oct 26, 2012, 4:22 AM ]
By Chuck Biedka

Published: Saturday, September 29, 2012, 2:06 a.m.
Updated: Saturday, September 29, 2012 

VANDERGRIFT — Surveillance video shows two men setting a van on fire, which endangered people inside a nearby tavern, police say.

According to police, those men are Randal Shondelmyer, 43, no address given, and Lewis Beck, 45, of the 200 block of Bryant Street, Vandergrift. Both are charged with arson and two related charges.

The men are accused of setting on fire a 1994 Dodge Caravan parked at 614 Hancock Ave. on Wednesday afternoon.

That’s the address of the Hancock Inn, a tavern that also has apartments on the second floor.
The arrests became public when photos of the men appeared on the West-moreland County jail’s list of prisoners.

In arrest papers, Vandergrift police allege the van’s owner was trying to put out the flames when a police sergeant arrived just after 4 p.m. The two kept the flames at bay until firefighters arrived.

The tavern owner has surveillance camera operating to cover the outside of the building.

Police say the camera shows Shondelmyer and Beck talking at the end of the parking lot, exchanging something, and then carrying white bags at they walked up to the van.

Beck served as a lookout, police say, when Shondelmyer opened the passenger door and placed the bag inside. The video then shows flames starting and the men walking to the tavern door and entering, police allege.

The state police fire marshal’s office also is investigating.

The men were arrested at Beck’s residence.
In addition to arson, the men are charged with risking a catastrophe and reckless endangering another person.

Shondel-myer and Beck were in the county jail in lieu of $50,000 percentage bonds pending preliminary hearings scheduled for Tuesday by Allegheny Township District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

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