A 35-year-old Beavercreek man is in a Pennsylvania jail on charges accusing him of threatening to shoot up two schools as a cover story so he could rob a bank.
Luke Joseph Dell entered a Bob Evans restaurant in North Huntingdon Twp. on Tuesday morning, laid down a note claiming there were multiple bombs and an active shooter at two high schools, the Associated Press and other Pennsylvania media outlets are reporting.
Dell told North Huntingdon Twp. police he wanted to distract police so he could rob a bank.
He was wearing a rubber mask that featured the wrinkled face of an aging white man with disheveled blond-gray hair, eyebrows and beard, when he entered the restaurant about 9:15 a.m., Police Chief Robert Rizzo told the Greensburg, Pa., Tribune-Review.
“Dell admitted that he passed the note … in order to get police to respond to the threat at the schools,” Rizzo said.
Restaurant employees called police and provided photographs of the man along with the black Dodge Charger he was driving. Police learned the Charger had a stolen Pennsylvania license plate.
Around 11 a.m., “a North Huntingdon officer who was going to the Robbins Station Road address then noticed the black Dodge Charger with the stolen license plate on it (ahead of him) … and performed a traffic stop,” Rizzo told the Tribune-Review.
Both of the schools, Norwin High School and Jeannette Junior/Senior High School, did send students home in reaction to the threat, police said. All schools in the Norwin School District instituted a modified lockdown because of the threat.
Police said the suspect they identified as Dell was wearing a mask when he entered the restaurant. Police also said they obtained a photo of the suspect and arrested him before he made it to the bank. The road where he was arrested was shut down while a bomb squad searched the car Dell was driving, our Cox sister station WPXI-TV reported. A check of the car's license plates showed the plate had been stolen, WPXI-TV reported.
A North Huntingdon District Court judge denied Dell bail and ordered him held in the county prison on charges of making terroristic threats, causing or risking a catastrophe, theft and other offenses. The judge set a preliminary hearing for Nov. 27.
The judge stopped Dell as he tried to explain that the terroristic threat of which he is accused was not really a threat, but a warning to the schools. The judge cautioned Dell about speaking without an attorney and that what he was saying in the courtroom could be used by prosecutors.
If convicted on all the charges, Dell faces a maximum prison sentence of 29 years and fines in excess of $50,000, the judge said.
Dell, in handcuffs and shackles as he awaited the trip to prison, did not respond to questions from reporters.
North Huntingdon is about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.
News Center 7 will update this developing story as we learn more. If you have a news tip for News Center 7, call our 24-hour line at 937-259-2237 or send it to email@example.com
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