Bank robber kills shopper outside South Strabane grocery store

  • By Mike Jones
    Staff writer June 16, 2013
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Photos by Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter
A state police forensic investigator looks for evidence behind the Giant Eagle in South Strabane where a shopper was shot to death by a bank robber Sunday afternoon. Order a Print
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Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter
Police officers look for evidence where a man was shot to death Sunday afternoon behind the Giant Eagle grocery store in South Strabane Township. Order a Print
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State police block access to the rear of the Giant Eagle in South Strabane.
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A shopper was shot to death Sunday afternoon as he tried to stop an armed man after the man had robbed the Citizens Bank located inside a busy South Strabane grocery store.

The robber walked into the Giant Eagle in Strabane Square shortly before 2:30 p.m., showed the bank teller a weapon and demanded money, township police Detective Mike Schidlmeier said.

A mob of people followed the robber as he ran through the pharmacy and behind the building to his getaway car. He shot one of the shoppers as he was confronted by the vehicle. Vincent M. Kelley, 46, of Church Street, Washington, died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to Washington County Coroner Tim Warco.

Schidlmeier said police were searching for a white, four-door compact car that probably has red paint splattered on the interior from a dye pack that exploded. Police were reviewing surveillance video and did not immediately have a description of the suspect.

Washington Councilman Joe Manning, who was one of the shoppers chasing the bank robber, said Kelley was farther ahead and apparently tried to grab one of the money bags from inside the car. Manning saw a puff of red paint as the dye pack exploded and then heard four gunshots.

“The car took off like a bat out of hell,” Manning said. “It looked like (Kelley) fell out of the car as (the banker robber) drove away.”

Manning said he and Giant Eagle employees attempted to resuscitate the man, who was not breathing and did not have a pulse. Kelley was taken by ambulance to Washington Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“They did a lot to try to save that man’s life,” Manning said of the grocery store employees.

The brazen bank robbery on Father’s Day startled both shoppers and store employees. Bakery workers said they were told by managers to go to the rear of the area and then later told to leave the store after the shooting. Manning said the store was packed with customers at the time of the robbery.

“Why he decided to pull off this robbery, I don’t know,” Manning said. “It’s could’ve been a lot worse. It’s just nuts. Just crazy.”

Police quickly arrived and cordoned off the area around the bank and behind the grocery store. However, customers continued to shop for groceries and went through the checkout lines just a few feet from where investigators were processing the robbery scene.

Several shoppers were visibly shaken as they described the incident to state police, who were assisting in the investigation.

Kelley was a member of the Brothers of the Hammer motorcycle group in Washington, according to his Facebook page.


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