Robbery spree ends in arrests

A string of brazen robberies ended Tuesday morning after police took two men into custody at Second Avenue Alley and Sixth Street.

Tyler A. Lattieri, 22, of 114 E. Third Ave., allegedly acted as the wheelman for three robberies carried out by Shawn M. Beck, 29, 219 Municipal St., East Freedom, according to Altoona police who said the pair confessed to their roles in the attempted heist of a city bank and successful robberies of two retail stores between Monday morning and Tuesday morning.

“We’ve had three robberies in the past 24 hours,” Altoona police Lt. Jeffrey Pratt said Tuesday after the pair were taken into custody.

It started Monday morning at 8:09 a.m. when Beck walked into Dollar General, 311 S. Lloyd St., and approached the cashier after retrieving a Monster energy drink from one of the store’s coolers, according to Altoona police.

“Give me all the [expletive deleted] money in the drawer,” Beck allegedly said after the clerk rang up the energy drink and told him the price, court records show.

Police said Beck pulled up his sweat shirt to reveal a “silverish in color, semi-automatic handgun” tucked into his waistband of his shorts.

The clerk told Beck she couldn’t open the drawer, prompting Beck to tell her to enter $20 and open the drawer, according to arrest papers filed Tuesday. After complying, Beck again demanded all the money and fled with $132 in cash.

Police said Lattieri was in on the robbery and waited in the car as the getaway driver. The car, a 2014 Volkswagon Passat, was stolen from Fiore Volkswagon, 1000 Logan Blvd., in late August.

Allegheny Township police Chief P. Richard Books said their investigation into the car theft began with a call Monday from Freedom Township police who were investigating the theft of checks. One of those checks, stolen from a member of Beck’s family, was written out to Fiore for the price of the car, $38,220.40, Books said. Books said Beck forged the signature on the check, one from a closed account, and that Beck used his own license in the transaction and put the car registration in his name.

Pratt said police saw the Volkswagon in the vicinity of the Dollar General store Monday morning and were on the lookout for the vehicle throughout the day. Altoona officers ultimately found the car at 11:45 p.m. parked in front of Lattieri’s home, and it was seized, Pratt said. Pratt said police believe Beck stayed at Lattieri’s overnight, and a search warrant for the home was sought Tuesday. Pratt said an air gun was seized and police would also be searching the Passat for a possible handgun.

Pratt noted surveillance from the store was used to identify Beck as a suspect, and Tuesday morning, as police sought an arrest warrant, Beck allegedly walked into Citizen’s Bank at 2053 Broad Avenue about 9:08 a.m. as Lattieri waited outside in his red Acura coupe.

Inside the bank, Beck wrote, “Give me all your money or I will shoot you,” on the back of a deposit slip and handed it, blank side up, to a teller.

“Flip it over,” Beck allegedly said.

Police said the teller read the note, began shaking and flipped the slip back over and looked again at the blank form. Again, Beck told her to flip it over and then said, “Give it back to me,” before he took the slip and fled the bank without any money.

A half-hour later, the pair allegedly robbed another store. This time, Beck took a Mountain Dew to the cashier at Family Dollar, 200 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd. at 9:43 a.m. Tuesday, according to police.

Police said Beck didn’t display any gun, but demanded all the money while holding his hand in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. Police said Beck took the $81 that the clerk handed over from the drawer and ran.

Pratt said Beck didn’t wear any mask or disguise and was captured on surveillance video from from the bank, Family Dollar and Dollar General.

The pair made it less than three miles before they were boxed in at Second Avenue and Sixth Street by state police responding to the robbery call.

Once in custody, both men gave statements to police and admitted their roles in the robberies, Pratt said.

During his arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Todd Kelly, Lattieri denied knowing about Monday’s robbery, but police said Beck implicated him in the holdup. When asked if he had any comment about the allegations, Beck said, “No.”

Both men face multiple felony criminal conspiracy- and burglary-related charges and were lodged in Blair County Prison with hearings slated for Sept. 18 at Central Court. Bail for Beck was set at $50,000 cash on four cases for a total of $200,000 and Lattieri’s bail was set at $30,000 for each of three cases for a total of $90,000.