Pittsburgh police charge two men with robbing Squirrel Hill banks

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Pittsburgh police have identified two men accused of robbing Squirrel Hill banks in two separate incidents within the past two weeks.

One of the men, now identified as Yamin Harris, 18, who previously lived in the West End and East Liberty, was arrested Wednesday following a morning foot chase through part of the neighborhood after a robbery at the First National Bank.

Investigators obtained a warrant today for Joseph Guiney, 33, of Greenfield, who is accused of robbing the bank on Murray Avenue near Beacon Street on Oct. 31. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the Robbery Squad at 412-232-7151.

The most dramatic of the two robberies occurred on Wednesday. Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus said Mr. Harris tried to walk into the bank before it opened but was unsuccessful. He returned again shortly after 9 a.m., pointed a gun at three tellers and placed cash in a white Eat'n Park bag with a smiley face cookie on it before running away, police said.

Wearing an Ohio State University sweatshirt, Mr. Harris hid behind bushes until a mailman spotted him and called 911 at 9:38 a.m. to report "suspicious activity."

The mailman "didn't know what he observed," Lt. Kraus said.

Officers from the city's Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill were nearby and chased Mr. Harris as he weaved across streets and driveways, police said.

Mr. Harris ran in front of one officer, who crashed while trying to chase him. The officer could not open either of the front doors of his car and instead climbed out the back door and joined in the chase, the lieutenant said.

The incident caused the nearby Hillel Academy to enact emergency procedures, confining students to classrooms and away from street-facing rooms until police gave them the all-clear.

Officers arrested Mr. Harris, who did not have identification on him and who refused to tell police his name. They booked him under the name John Doe and charged him with robbery, fire and drug violations while they tried to obtain fingerprints to confirm his identity, police said.

Court records show that Mr. Harris was also wanted for a street robbery that occurred in Friendship this summer. Police wrote in a criminal complaint that Mr. Harris jumped out from behind a bush near the Sharp Edge bar on Friendship Avenue early on Aug. 4, demanded money and pistol-whipped a man. Mr. Harris was arraigned on those charges early this morning.

Also today, Pittsburgh police obtained a warrant for Mr. Guiney, who is accused of robbing the First Niagara Bank on Halloween.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said that Mr. Guiney entered the bank about 12:40 p.m., passed a teller a note saying, "I have a gun, give me the money" and took money from a teller before leaving. Police identified Mr. Guiney as the bank robber earlier this week, according to a criminal complaint. mobilehome - neigh_city - breaking

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 and on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published November 8, 2012 9:45 PM


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