Masks, weapons, cops and cash pretty much capture the contents of more than a dozen folders in the Post-Gazette’s archive.
In those folders are crime stories, to be precise, bank robberies. Many of them are quite pedestrian, some are dramatic, a few are unforgettable, not only because of a plot, a set of characters or a number of zeros stolen, the “Bank robbery” photos expand story lines and let the imagination wander and wonder, “How is that photo related to ‘Bank robberies’?”
Here is, for example, a photo of Pittsburgh cab driver Anthony Solis. In his hand are two $1 bills that paid bank bandit’s fare in 1965.
Here is another photo taken in April of 1967 on Arlington and E. Warrington Avenue, the busy intersection in Allentown neighborhood. The scene framed by the photographer focuses on the sign, ‘Western Pennsylvania National Bank.’ That was the bank that was robbed. Coincidentally, it is Zone 3 police station now.
Look here at the shuttered Kaufmann’s display window. And Sgt. John O’Connor with his fingers showing the number of the bullet holes he found. TWO. That bank robbery was out of ordinary, as far as bank robberies go.
A suspect fleeing two Downtown bank robberies in the afternoon of April 12, 1989 shot a city police officer and a bystander. Both lived. The suspect was captured in the Strip District 15 minutes after his attempt to get away in a Yellow Cab.
On that afternoon the suspect entered the Union National Bank at Seventh Avenue and William Penn Place. Threatening a teller with a gun, he got the money. But that, apparently, was not enough. A few minutes later he made a holdup attempt at the Pittsburgh National Bank branch at Fourth and Wood. Cops were already there as the suspect was leaving the second crime scene.
He ran down Smithfield and “began shooting wildly,” he shot the pedestrian, some of the bullets smashed window displays at Kaufmann’s and then he pointed a gun at Patrolman Anthony “Tony” Phillips. He shot Phillips, ran down Smithfield and commandeered a Yellow Cab. Phillips was in pain but he was on assignment. He continued chasing the suspect, according to The Pittsburgh Press.
Police said, “As we chased the cab, the suspect threw money out of the cab’s window, his bag stretched out on the back seat, he aimed his gun at pursuing police, but never fired a single shot.”
Police apprehended him outside the back door of Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. Inc., at 2012 Penn Ave., in Spring Alley. The cab he was in rammed into a black pickup truck he was preparing to load with pizza supplies. The pickup truck was blocking the alley when the cab smashed into the back of it.”
The suspect was a serial bank robber. Just a day before, he was involved in armed robberies of the Mellon Bank at 821 Liberty Ave. and First Federal Savings and Loan at 550 Wood St.
That was one of the wildest bank robberies in Pittsburgh’s history.
Patrolman Phillips received accolades for his duty and out of ordinary performance, Phillips didn’t stop chasing the suspect even after he was shot. The pedestrian, John Weres, from East Liberty recovered at Allegheny Liberty Hospital after being hit in the upper thigh.