EBENSBURG - A man who witnessed his vehicles being broken into was injured after chasing down and tackling one of the suspects prior to police arrival, Ebensburg Borough police said.
Police arrested Michael Allen Lechene, 20, of 127 Smith Road, Patton, and William Robert Ryan Fitch, 22, of Maryland in connection with a string of car break-ins on Oct. 17.
They allegedly removed about $2,000 worth of electronics, sunglasses and various other items from unlocked vehicles in Ebensburg, according to their arrest papers.
The man who witnessed the alleged break-in told police he pursued one of the suspects for multiple blocks to West Horner Street. The suspect, later identified by police as Fitch, allegedly stopped running and told the man he lived in one of the nearby houses.
Fitch then approached the man and they tackled each other to the ground, police said.
The man told police Fitch allegedly tried to draw a sheathed knife from his pocket, but the witness was able to grab the knife and throw it away, he said.
Fitch then allegedly bit the man multiple times on his left hand and arm, according to court documents.
A Jackson Township police officer searching the area arrived and arrested Fitch. A 7-inch knife was recovered at the scene, police said.
Officers arrested Lechene in the parking lot of Turner Apartments, 700 N. Center St., after he was seen stumbling in and out of his vehicle, court documents state.
Officers searching the vehicle recovered a GPS unit, sunglasses and various amounts of money.
A consent search on Oct. 18 authorized by Lechene's father, the vehicle's owner, uncovered a bottle of bourbon, a pill bottle and a cellphone belonging to Fitch, police said.
In addition to giving a written statement about his involvement, Lechene showed police the areas where the thefts took place. He faces additional charges of underage drinking and two charges of disorderly conduct, according to his arrest papers.
Both Fitch and the witness were transported by ambulance to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown.
Fitch was then transported to Cambria County Prison on 10 percent of $25,000 cash bail.
Lechene and Fitch face multiple charges, including seven counts each of theft by unlawful taking and seven counts each of receiving stolen property, after entering seven vehicles and removing various items and money. Fitch faces additional charges of possessing a prohibited offensive weapon, aggravated and simple assault, according to his arrest papers.
Fitch's bail was increased to 10 percent of $50,000 on Oct. 23 and he remained incarcerated as of Friday night.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11. Lechene is scheduled to appear Dec. 4 before Magisterial District Judge Frederick S. Creany.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.