Police drew weapons when man pointed pellet gun

Last updated: June 17. 2014 11:26PM - 6294 Views
By - elewis@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE —A man wearing a hooded sweatshirt on a hot, humid morning was the first sign to police on patrol that something might have been amiss.

The temperature was 71 degrees with the relative humidity at 81 percent at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday when two city officers pulled into the parking lot of Turkey Hill on Carey Avenue and saw a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt standing at the counter allegedly holding up the store.

When the officers opened the door, the hooded man, identified as Louis E. Santana, 21, of Stark Street, Wilkes-Barre, turned and aimed a handgun at them, according to charges filed.

Both officers displayed their service revolvers and ordered Santana to drop the gun and get on the floor.

It turned out the gun Santana brandished was a pellet gun that looked like a real gun, according to charging documents.

Santana was arraigned Tuesday by District Judge Paul Roberts in Kingston on two counts of robbery and one count each of aggravated assault and possessing instruments of crime. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $50,000 bail.

Eight and a half years ago a similar robbery occurred at the same Turkey Hill.

On Jan. 13, 2006, a city officer spotted Paul Appnel, 42, of Duryea, robbing the store at gunpoint. Appnel fled the store while aiming a handgun at the pursuing officer, who fired 10 rounds from his .40-Beretta during a foot chase to Keith Street.

Appnel drove away in a car that was found abandoned along Interstate 81 in Wilkes-Barre Township. He was found near the car, dead from gunshot injuries. A starter pistol was found near him.

The shooting was ruled justified by then-Luzerne County District Attorney David W. Lupas.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Santana:

Two officers pulled into the Turkey Hill parking lot and noticed a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt on a warm morning. The two officers opened the door, causing the man, with his face concealed with a mask, to turn toward them brandishing a handgun in his hand.

Santana was taken into custody without incident.

Police said Santana entered the store and passed a note that stated, “Put your $$ and your wallet in the bag. Don’t say (expletive) Fast,” the complaint says.

The two officers entered the store after the two clerks surrendered cash to Santana, according to the complaint.

Police said they seized a black ski mask, glasses and a black pellet gun that was missing its orange paint at the tip of the barrel, giving the impression the handgun was real.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled on June 24 before District Judge Rick Cronauer in Wilkes-Barre.

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