Police charge Ambridge man in knife attacks
Police on Sunday said an Ambridge man on parole for aggravated assault is facing attempted homicide and other charges because they suspect he is the knife-wielding robber who attacked two pedestrians last week.
Officers on Friday arrested Rodney Edward Michael, 28, but they didn’t charge him with offenses related to the attacks until Sunday, police chief James Mann said.
“We weren’t certain it was him until the victims could see the photo array,” Mann said. “Now, we are certain it is him.”
In addition to attempted homicide, police charged Michael with robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, aggravated assault, terroristic threats and simple assault.
Michael is in the Beaver County Jail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11. He does not have an attorney listed, Mann said.
On Wednesday night, Michael threatened one man with a knife in a Rite Aid parking lot, demanding his cash and valuables, police said. The victim managed to escape. The same night, police found another victim, a 60-year-old Aliquippa man, stabbed twice in the arm and once in the back. Police said Michael attempted to rob him at a Merchant Street bus stop. His injuries were treated at a Pittsburgh hospital.
Mann spent hours last week undercover — dressed in jeans, a fleece jacket and a baseball hat — walking the streets of Ambridge in an attempt to catch the suspect.
“We knew he was going to strike again,” Mann said.
On Friday, police accused Michael of robbing a man and a woman of a cell phone, money and prescription drugs during an apparent drug deal in the garage of Michael’s grandmother’s house, blocks from where the earlier robberies had taken place, Mann said.
“He must have thought those people weren’t going to call the police,” Mann said. “We’ve had dealings with them before; they were familiar to us, but fortunately, they did the right thing and reported it to us.”
When Michael’s grandmother allowed police to search her house, police found knives, a BB gun, prescription drugs and the female victim’s cell phone under a washing machine. Phone numbers listed for the house were not in service.
Police arrested Michael and charged him in the robbery of the couple. He was charged with the other offenses when witnesses to the earlier robberies identified him from photo arrays.
Mann said police plan to investigate whether Michael could have been involved in at least one other robbery, in October, when someone pistol-whipped and robbed a victim near Michael’s grandmother’s house.
Michael had been staying with his grandmother because he was on parole for a 2007 incident in Ambridge. Police said Michael attempted to strike a 12-year-old girl with a gun, but the gun went off, and a bullet grazed her face, Mann said.
Court records show Michael was sentenced to two to five years in prison when he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and illegally carrying a firearm.