Indignant woman scolds armed duo in Jeannette
Margie Baker of Jeannette was making bread crumbs for eggplant Parmesan in her kitchen on Sunday night when she heard a window air conditioner crash to the floor.
Two men wearing black clothing, gloves and ski masks climbed through the open window about 8 p.m., pointed a handgun at her and demanded that she open her safe.
The 62-year-old stood her ground.
“Go ahead, shoot me,” she said. “You’ll never get anything out of the safe.”
One man placed the gun to her temple and told her to “get moving,” so she complied.
She said the two men took $5,000 worth of jewelry and gold coins.
Baker said she was too angry to be scared, and she scolded the robbers for damaging her window.
“What do you think you guys are doing here?” she told the men. “Don’t you have something better to do?”
Baker followed the robbers out the door as she was dialing 911.
They didn’t get far.
Jeannette police officers Justin Scalzo and James Phillips, along with canine officer Falco, ran down one suspect a block from Baker’s home on North Third Street.
Joshua Churchfield, 26, of McKeesport was cornered by Falco on North Fourth Street. Scalzo said police are searching for the second suspect, Chad Snyder, 32, of the Smithton-Rostraver area. Snyder called police and promised to surrender later Tuesday, Scalzo said.
Police said a third person may have been involved in the home invasion. Scalzo said the robbers knew Baker had a safe and where it was located.
“We don’t feel this was a random home invasion,” Scalzo said. “These people somehow knew the victim.”
Baker lives alone and said she gets by on an income of $500 a month.
“I can barely manage on my own now,” she said. “I was just too (expletive) off to bother. I wasn’t scared or angry.”
“She handled herself very well,” Scalzo said.
Scalzo said he was responding to the 911 call when he saw two men matching the robbers’ description drive past in a red car. He said the men had a “deer in the headlights look.”
He pursued the vehicle. When the suspects stopped and Scalzo approached their car, both men jumped out.
Falco tracked down Churchfield, who had jumped over a 6-foot fence. Scalzo said his dog chased Churchfield down a hill and got entangled in the suspect’s legs. When Scalzo arrived, Churchfield was staring at the dog, afraid to move.
When Scalzo and Phillips tried to handcuff Churchfield, he resisted, prompting the dog to force him into submission, according to police.
A search of the car turned up clothing matching the description of the suspects’ and a pellet gun. Jewelry and coins were inside the jacket pockets, Scalzo said.
Churchfield was charged with burglary, robbery, escape, conspiracy, resisting arrest, loitering and criminal trespass. He is in Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bond.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.