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Armed robbery hits Pa. town again

March 02, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - The owner of Frank's Pizza complained about crime earlier this year, saying the small town needed more police. Arturo Fuentes' pizza shop had been broken into twice in the past three years and the bank next door had been robbed three times since November.

Now Pennsylvania State Police are looking for the man who put a semi-automatic pistol to Fuentes' head Saturday night, ordered him and workers lie on the floor and raided the cash register.

The suspect fled in a red compact car, police say. No shots were fired and there were no injuries in the 9:48 p.m. robbery.

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The robbery is the fourth in town since November. The F&M Trust bank on Pa. 233 was robbed in November, December and January.

Fuentes suspects the man may have been a customer because he didn't look at the menu before ordering a "Bambino," an individual-sized pizza.

Fuentes said he started a conversation with the man as he prepared the order. The man told him he worked at VisionQuest, a nearby juvenile detention facility.

While the pizza was baking, Fuentes said he walked behind the man to a table. The man turned, pulled a gun and put it to Fuentes' temple, demanding money.

The suspect walked behind Fuentes pointing the gun at him as the owner went to the cash register, he said.

The man stuffed the money Fuentes handed him in the front pocket of his dark sweatshirt, then walked out, Fuentes said.

But the man quickly came back in and demanded Fuentes open a black box sitting beside the register.

Finding nothing, the suspect made Fuentes and two workers lie on the ground and asked them not to look at him, Fuentes said.

With Saturday night's robbery and a recent break-in, Fuentes may add a security system and a security camera.

Fuentes said the town hasn't been secure since Police Chief Charles Mills left his job.

Mont Alto Mayor Frank Gilreath said Mills stopped working about a month ago. Mills has been in dispute with the Mont Alto Council for the past several months.

Pennsylvania State Police have been handling all emergency calls in the town, Gilreath said.

Last month, Mont Alto Council members authorized Gilreath to find an attorney to help him with his investigation of the town's police department.

Mills was suspended for a week without pay late last year by the Mont Alto Council after a complaint that he failed to act to quiet a barking dog. Another complaint claims Mills has worked more than the authorized 32 hours on at least 13 occasions.

Mills could not be reached for comment.

Police said the suspect in Saturday's robbery was a black man, about 6-feet-2, weighing about 180 pounds.

He wore dark, slightly oversized pants and a dark knit cap, police said. Anyone with information about the robbery should contact Pennsylvania State Trooper Jeffrey L. Stine at 1-717- 264-5161.

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