Armed neighbors foil Union Township burglary

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Two armed men – one of them carrying a shotgun and the other toting a handgun – stopped a burglar from breaking into their neighbor’s Union Township home last month and held him at gunpoint until police could arrive.


Southwestern Regional police said they were alerted to a burglary in the 6000 block of Route 88 shortly before midnight July 21, but when officers arrived, they came upon Dwayne Zenobi and James Cain holding weapons and stopping the suspect from leaving.


Police said Jed D. Shoemaker was standing outside the home with a claw hammer, crowbar and flashlight, and he allegedly admitted to officers he planned to break in to “see what was inside” the home. Shoemaker, 34, of 3606 Washington Ave., Finleyville, is now waiting to be arraigned on charges of loitering, prowling at night and possessing instruments of crime.


“Neighbors capturing a guy at gunpoint, this might be a first for us,” Southwestern Regional police Chief John Hartman said.


Cain told police he saw Shoemaker arrive at the house in a pickup truck and begin snooping around the side of the house, which was empty at the time. He called Zenobi and they both confronted the suspect near the side of the porch with weapons. Police said the two men then walked Shoemaker back to his truck at gunpoint and waited for police.


Hartman commended the men for their vigilance in protecting their neighborhood, but also urged citizens to be cautious if they try to take the law into their own hands.


“They did nothing wrong to this guy. They stepped forward and tried to defend a neighbor’s property,” Hartman said. “My recommendation is be careful. When things go wrong, they go horribly wrong in these situations.”


That was illustrated on June 16 when a shopper was shot to death as he tried to stop an armed robber at the Citizens Bank inside Giant Eagle in South Strabane Township.


Hartman urged citizens to think about the consequences before getting involved. He added that police officers go through meticulous training and are equipped with the proper tools to stop criminals.


“A general recommendation is we tell people to be careful and realize what they’re involving themselves in,” Hartman said. “It’s a high-stakes game.”


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