The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

March 26, 2014

Heroic capture could have ended in tragedy

JOHNSTOWN — We’re thankful that three men were able to run down the man who allegedly robbed a Moxham credit union last week – and even more thankful that they weren’t injured doing it.

There are plenty of words to describe their actions. Brave and heroic are two. Shortsighted and ill-advised are two more.

We applaud the quick-thinking plumbing contractor who, upon realizing that the USSCO Federal Credit Union on Central Avenue had just been robbed, shadowed the suspect. The contractor, who asked that The Tribune-Democrat not use his name, saw the suspect change clothes – presumably to bolster his getaway attempt.

That’s when Leroy Palov, a city codes enforcement officer, noticed the plumbing contractor watching intently. The story was quickly relayed to Palov, but in doing so the suspect, Tyler Timothy Reed, noticed the contractor pointing at him and started running.

Palov called 911 while simultaneously giving chase. With authorities on the way, the pair probably should have let the experts handle the situation. But, with their adrenaline pumping as it was, they didn’t.

They continued their pursuit and even enlisted the services of Mike Stenger of Ferndale, who witnessed the chase and was quickly informed of what had happened.

Before long, Stenger and Palov had Reed on the ground. Not surprisingly, the suspect, who allegedly handed over a wad of cash, didn’t find much sympathy from his pursuers.

“I had my knee on his back and he said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ ” Palov said. “I said, ‘tough luck.’ ”

There was plenty of luck involved in the whole situation – some good, some bad.

Reed allegedly had the misfortune of robbing the credit union at the same time as the plumbing contractor was at that location – even after the suspect hesitated to follow him into it.

The three men involved in apprehending Reed were fortunate that they were not injured. While we applaud their bravery, the situation could have ended in tragedy. Reed reportedly had a knife in his waistband. Thank goodness there were no injuries in his apprehension.

Moxham, Johnstown and all of Cambria County are lucky to have people like the three men who chased down the suspect. It’s encouraging to know that there are not just good, law-abiding citizens here but also those who go above and beyond what is right to do something astonishing.

The three men really are heroes, and we thank them for their actions. But, in the future, we’d encourage them, or anyone else who faces similar circumstances, to let the professionals handle the situation.

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