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Ford City man charged with robbing Vandergrift store

posted Oct 17, 2009, 12:37 PM by Vandergrift Police   [ updated Oct 17, 2009, 12:32 PM ]
 
By Chuck Biedka, VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Thursday, October 15, 2009
 
Vandergrift police are charging a Ford City man with robbing a borough convenience store after they found clothes he allegedly wore discarded in the trash outside of the house where he was staying.

Lawrence C. Clemons Jr., 38, of the 1100 block of Fifth Avenue, Ford City, is accused of robbing the B-Z Mart in Vandergrift early Monday.

Surveillance video shows a lone robber walking into the store at 103 Farragut Ave. at about 2:40 a.m. and then walking behind the clerk.

According to a police affidavit, the robber pointed a pistol at the clerk and said, "Tell me where the money is and I am not going to hurt anybody!"

After asking where the phone was located, he pulled the line out of the wall, police said.

Surveillance video shows the robber was wearing a gray striped jacket, plaid shorts and tennis shoes.

He wore a black tassel cap that he used as a mask by pulling it over his face and cutting out eye holes.

After getting about $600 in cash and cartons of Newport cigarettes, the robber left in an older, gold-colored sedan, police said.

Chief Joe Caporali said tips came from Ford City, Parks, Kittanning police and state police from East Franklin.

Officer Joe Gray said a sergeant in Parks told him about a gold Dodge Avenger with a sunroof and fog lights that he was familiar with. Clemons was believed to drive that car.

Working with other authorities, Gray discovered that Clemons was staying in Ford City.

So Gray said he and Armstrong County Detective Robin Davis went to the residence and found the car.

"It looked just like the car in the surveillance video," he said.

Garbage bags were placed near the curb in anticipation of trash collection the next day. Gray said they looked inside.

He said the jacket worn by the robber was in one bag and the tassel cap mask was in another. Also in the bag was discarded junk mail with the address of the person with whom Clemons was staying.

Ford City police watched the car while Gray and Davis went to Leechburg and got a search warrant.

With the warrant in hand, Gray and other police knocked on the door shortly after 2 a.m.

"Inside, they found cartons of Newports like the ones taken at the B-Z Mart," Caporali said.

Clemons was arrested and taken to the Vandergrift police station for questioning, Gray said.

Gray said Clemons confessed at about 3:30 a.m.

"He told us that it was only a pellet pistol (used in the robbery) and that he threw it into the Kiski River," Caporali said.

Clemons is charged with robbery, receiving stolen property, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats, theft, having a firearm without a license, and being a felon who cannot own a firearm.

Senior District Judge Martha Medich ordered Clemons held in the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of $75,000 cash bond.

She said a preliminary hearing tentatively is scheduled for Monday.

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