FBI, Pa. State Police and South Strabane police seek help to find bank robber-killer

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The FBI, Pennsylvania State Police and South Strabane police are working around the clock to find the killer of a Washington man who was shot on Father's Day as he tried to stop a bank robber at the Strabane Square shopping center.

To help that effort, Citizens Bank and Giant Eagle have offered a $50,000 reward for information that could lead to the prosecution of the suspect.

That news was announced at a news conference Friday held by South Strabane police Chief Donald Zofchak and Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone, who along with other law enforcement officials, asked the public to come forward with any information they may have about the robbery and murder.

"We obviously had a very trying week, a very tragic week. The officers have worked diligently and got a lot of information," Chief Zofchak said.

Vincent Kelley, 46, was killed in the shooting when he tried to stop a masked man wearing a straw hat who had just robbed the Citizens Bank inside of the Giant Eagle in the Strabane Square shopping center in South Strabane. Mr. Kelley had been grocery shopping with a friend when he witnessed the robbery and chased the robber into the parking lot and struggled with him inside of the robber's car. He was killed after being shot several times during the struggle and his body was left in the parking lot. Mr. Kelley's funeral was held Thursday.

The chief said numerous people have contacted police with information and cooperated in the investigation, but that more information is needed to apprehend the suspect. He declined to release details of what the police investigation has uncovered to date for fear that the public would repeat that information back to investigators.

"We want new information," he said, adding that calls should be made to the township police at 724-350-2965.

South Strabane police Detective Ken Torboli said the suspect entered the Giant Eagle around 2:20 p.m. Sunday wearing a mask, a large straw hat with a blue band and floppy brim and an open umbrella, all efforts to shield his identity. He jumped over the teller counter, showed a gun and left with a bag of money.

"He came knowing what he was going to do," Detective Torboli said.

Police described the suspect as in his 20s or 30s, between 5 feet 9 and 6 feet in height and of medium build. His race is unknown because most of his skin was covered.

The robber parked away from the store entrance, near the pharmacy drive-through area, apparently to be close to an exit from the parking lot. Police said he drove a "small-to-mid-sized" white four-door sedan south on Route 19 after leaving the shopping center and was last spotted just north of the interchange with I-70.

A red dye pack placed in the money bag exploded inside of the getaway car, creating a cloud of smoke. Authorities are asking any motorists who may have seen a car fitting that description, driving erratically or filled with red smoke on Route 19 or Interstates 70 or 79 to call South Strabane police. They also ask that anyone who may have seen someone throwing items from that type of car to report it to police.

Police would also like anyone who took cell phone photos or video of the incident inside the Giant Eagle or outside in the parking lot to provide it to police.

FBI special agent Patrick McGlennon said in addition to creating red smoke, the dye pack, upon explosion, would have caused burns and other irritation to the suspect or anyone in the car with him and stains on the hands of anyone who handled the money.

Mr. McGlennon noted that anyone who knows someone with burns or red stains on their hands should report it as well as any auto shop that may be asked to clean a car with red stains on the interior.

As for the victim, Chief Zofchak said: "Our heartfelt sorrow goes out to the Kelley family." He noted that Mr. Kelley died "trying to make the community better."

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Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590.


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