Pair accused of robbing Goodwill

A former employee was one of two men police said held up a Logan Township thrift store Monday.

David Askia Wilson, 23, 1905 Sixth Ave., and Dawane A. James, 24, Verona, are accused of walking into the Goodwill Store in the Park Hills Plaza about 7:35 a.m. and sticking a gun in the face of an employee after she was knocked to the floor, then threatening to kill her, according to Logan Township police.

The employee, who police said was using a dust mop and wearing headphones with her back to the door, recognized Wilson’s voice and confronted him.

“Dave, I know that’s you. What are you doing?” she asked, telling Wilson she recognized his voice even though the pair was wearing black clothes and had their faces covered.

“Then he changed his voice,” Logan Township police Chief Ron Heller said.

Wilson allegedly told the woman to shut up or he would kill her, and police said throughout the robbery the pair threatened to shoot the employee. At one point James tackled the 33-year-old woman and punched her in face when she tried to escape, police said.

According to police, after Wilson grabbed $75 from each of the store’s two cash registers, James dragged the woman across the floor to the store’s office. James allegedly held a gun to the woman’s head and threatened to shoot her unless she opened the door, but the woman told the pair she didn’t have the office keys.

Police said Wilson retrieved the keys from the employee’s cash register, where she normally kept them, and James tried to get the woman to get down on her knees.

It was then that the woman, who was being held by her neck with a gun to her head, tried to escape and was tackled by James, knocking over some sales racks in the scuffle, Heller said.

“He punched her, put a gun to her face and told her he was going to shoot her,” Heller said.

When Wilson returned to the office with the keys, he allegedly told James to shoot her in the knees, but instead they forced the woman to open the safe as Wilson held a gun on her. Police said the pair threatened her because she wasn’t opening the safe fast enough, and once the safe was opened, she handed over the money.

Wilson even demanded she hand over the pennies, police said.

The employee was treated by AMED for injuries suffered in the robbery, including her left hand that was injured as she tried to get away, Heller said. Police said she was pushed into a corner of the office and told by Wilson that they would come back and kill her if she came out but the woman grabbed a cordless phone and ran from the office after the pair fled.

In all, he pair made off with $550 that they stuffed in a shoulder bag they stole from the store, according to court records.

Heller said a citizen saw the pair run to Wilson’s 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and followed them while he dialed 911. As Wilson drove, the pair tossed the clothes they wore during the robbery out the window, police said.

Heller said the pair were followed by the citizen down Arlaryd Street to Logan Boulevard and then onto Park Avenue. At Frankstown Road, the pair headed east. When Wilson and James turned onto Brush Mountain Road, they were confronted by state police and officers from Allegheny Township, Altoona, Logan Township and Duncansville. Wilson drove through the grass at a nearby church to get away and turned onto Hickory Hill before driving back onto Frankstown Road toward the city, Heller said.

Once in in Altoona, the pair were pursued down Union Avenue and onto Sixth Avenue before turning onto 25th Street, Fifth Avenue and then 22nd Street. As Wilson drove down Ninth Avenue and tried turning left at 19th Street, the Monte Carlo was stopped by a steel girder post, police said.

Wilson and James fled on foot after the crash, but were both taken into custody by officers from several departments.

Because the robbery occurred during shift changes at Altoona and Logan Township police departments, police said officers from both the daylight and night shifts were available.

A subsequent search of Wilson’s Monte Carlo turned up the stolen cash, still in the bag taken from Goodwill, as well as the handgun, Heller said.

Neither Wilson nor James had much to say at their arraignments Monday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Steven Jackson on robbery and related charges, including illegal possession of a gun.

Logan Township police Sgt. Terry Walter told the judge Wilson has an extensive criminal history filling four pages dating back to when he was a juvenile. He is currently on probation in Allegheny County, police said.

Both Wilson and James told Jackson they were unemployed, single, with no children.

Jackson set bail at $150,000 cash for each, citing the serious nature of the charges, and the pair were shackled by state constables and taken to Blair County Prison.