Farell burglary

MELISSA KLARIC | Herald

Investigators from the state police examine the crime scene after police officers shot a suspected burglar early Wednesday inside the Farrell Golden Dawn supermarket.

FARRELL – Pennsylvania State Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting inside Farrell Golden Dawn early Wednesday.

Mercer County District Attorney Miles K. Karson said two police officers shot a suspected burglar. He declined to identify the officers.

Robert Lee Zeman, 24, of 402 New Castle Ave., Sharon, was charged by Farrell police with burglary, criminal trespass and possessing an instrument of crime.

Karson said Zeman, whom he identified as the alleged burglar, is in St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and is expected to survive his injury.

“Pending completion of the entire investigation, we will make a determination what, if any, additional charges are appropriate,” the district attorney said.

Upon his recovery, Zeman will be extradited to Pennsylvania where he will face an arraignment in front of District Judge Mary Ann Odem of Farrell.

According to a police criminal complaint signed by Farrell detective Capt. Charles Rubano, at approximately 12:55 a.m., Farrell officers were dispatched to the grocery store at 827 Sharon New Castle Road.

The caller, an employee working the midnight shift, reported that someone was inside the supermarket’s office area and appeared to be breaking into the safe. Farrell officers learned from the caller that the suspected burglar was wearing a dark hoodie pulled up over his face.

Officers then requested assistance from neighboring police, to which Hermitage, Sharon and Shenango Township departments responded, according to the report. At approximately 1:11 a.m., officers from Farrell, Sharon and Hermitage entered the building.

Two minutes later, police came upon the alleged burglar, who fled up into the ceiling to avoid getting caught.

“The Hermitage officer and another officer fired upon the burglar, who they deemed a deadly threat,” Hermitage police Chief Eric Jewell stated in a press release. 

The suspect was taken into custody at about 1:21 a.m. after being shot, according to the police report.

Jewell said that one of Hermitage’s officers fired a weapon. Karson would not identify the other officer or his/her department.

“At this point, with the investigation still pending, I’m not going to divulge that,” Karson said. “That’s up to the individual departments. Generally, (the officers) are put in some kind of administrative category.”

Karson did say that Zeman did not respond to “lawful orders from the police to surrender.”

“At a point in the encounter, (police) believed that the suspect was a deadly threat and they responded by using their weapons,” the district attorney said.

Officers later discovered that Zeman got into the Farrell Golden Dawn by prying open a back door, according to the police report. Once inside, the suspect went to the front area of the business and tried to get into the ATM, causing extensive damage to the unit, investigators said.

The Critical Incident Response Team responded shortly after the encounter and searched the store and adjacent businesses in the plaza, looking for additional suspects or witnesses, Karson said.

After the district attorney was apprised of the incident by Farrell police Chief Jon Rococi, he contacted the major crimes unit of the Pennsylvania State Police and requested that they investigate the officer-involved shooting.

“(PSP) promptly showed up with 15 investigators from Lawrence, Butler and Mercer counties,” Karson said. “Investigators ... are working at completing the investigation, processing the scene, interviewing all witnesses and completing reports of all their various findings. That will require some evidence sent to the Erie crime lab for analysis.”

The state police forensic team and investigators spent several hours inside Golden Dawn Wednesday morning and, just before noon, troopers were examining parking lots behind the store and speaking to people from neighboring buildings. A trooper was also taking pictures of the back door leading into the grocery store.

By noon, all police had cleared the scene.

“Everything is under control and final disposition will be pending the completion of (the state police) investigation,” Karson said.

Follow MELISSA KLARIC on Twitter and Facebook @HeraldKlaric, email: mklaric@sharonherald.com.