By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
SHENANGO VALLEY —
Two men are in jail after their arrests Wednesday on charges related to guns stolen just hours earlier during a home invasion and robbery in Sharon.
Sharon and Southwest Mercer County Regional police arrested Chad Alan Runyan and Stevie Duane Dean in connection with 31 guns stolen at about midnight Wednesday from Ronald Bergkessel, 672 S. Oakland Ave. Seventeen of the stolen guns have been recovered so far.
The suspects were taken to Mercer County Jail after failing to post bond at their arraignments on felony charges of receiving stolen property. Other charges against both men will be filed as the two departments continue their joint investigation, Sharon police Chief Mike Menster said Thursday.
Police notified local gun dealers of the overnight robbery. They learned from Shooters Supply personnel that Runyan had sold some guns at the West Middlesex store and said he would return to sell more.
Sharon and Southwest police watched the store and arrested Runyan, 23, of 329 Buckeye Drive, South Pymatuning Township, at about 2:30 p.m. when he returned to the shop at 9 Short St., Menster said.
Police, who had a search warrant, recovered six guns from the store and Runyan’s car and continued their search for Dean, Menster said.
After Runyan’s arrest, Southwest Mercer County Regional police received information that Dean and guns were at a home on Wallis Avenue in Farrell, said Chief Riley Smoot Jr.
While police did not find Dean there, they received a description of the car he was said to be in, which was funneled to Sharon police.
Sharon police arrested Dean, 24, of South Bend, Ind., in that car at about 5:15 p.m. during a traffic stop at Leslie Street and South Oakland.
“He was a passenger in a car we had been looking for,” Menster said. “We towed the vehicle that belonged to his girlfriend and got a search warrant. In the trunk, there were 11 of the guns that had been stolen during the home invasion.”
Rifles and several pistols were among the evidence found in the trunk.
Menster said it also contained a large amount of ammunition that police think had been stolen with the guns, a ski mask and two other guns that were not part of the Sharon robbery.
One had been reported stolen in Union Township, Lawrence County. Police were still tracing the former ownership of the second gun.
When police were taking Dean out of the cruiser at the police station, he had managed to slip one of his wrists out of the handcuffs and tried to escape.
“He was flailing with the cuffs that were still attached to his other wrist and using it as a weapon,” Menster said. “The officers used a Taser to help subdue him.”
Two policemen received scrapes and minor cuts during the struggle, but neither they nor Dean were seriously hurt, Menster said.
District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell, set Dean’s bail at $250,000.
In addition to guns and ammunition, the robbers also had taken a flat- screen television and stereo equipment from Bergkessel’s home. Those electronics were found later Wednesday stashed in the attic of another house in the same block. It was an occupied residence, Menster said, declining to say who lived there.
Menster sidestepped a question asking if Dean was one of the three black men the victim had said kicked their way into his home early Wednesday or how Runyan, who is white, may fit into the case.
“We have witnesses that tell us there was a car in the alley operated by a white male that left at a high rate of speed,” Menster said, declining to name Runyan as the driver or Dean as a suspect in the robbery.
“This is a very complex investigation and we have an enormous amount of evidence that’s taking a lot of time to work through,”Menster said. “We’re working closely with Southwest and we anticipate more arrests and charges but I can’t tell you when.”
Evidence taken for further analysis at the Pennsylvania State Police crime lab includes the recovered guns, fingerprints and DNA samples.
“This is a serious case and we want to make sure we do everything correctly,” Menster said.
Police from the two departments conducted interviews in both Farrell and Sharon as well as West Middlesex that helped to crack the case.
“We have received good cooperation that led us to make these arrests and recover these stolen items,” Menster said.
Runyan had made two sales at Shooter’s Supply, Smoot said. Along with the guns Runyan had, police also confiscated cash from him, Smoot said.
Runyan faces a preliminary hearing on charges of six counts of receiving stolen property at 9:15 a.m. July 17 before Antos, while Dean will go before District Judge Dennis M. Songer, Sharon, for a hearing at 10 a.m. July 11 on charges of one count each of receiving stolen property, making terroristic threats, escape and resisting arrest.