Person of interest in custody in bank robbery

GLENMOOR-A man who authorities are calling “a person of interest” in the Thursday morning robbery of Home Savings & Loan in Glenmoor is being held in County Jail.

Brian Keith Johnston, 42, who remained housed in Columbiana County Jail as of presstime Thursday, was taken into custody after it was determined the vehicle he was driving – which matched the description of the one used during the robbery – was discovered to be reported stolen.

Officials indicated Johnston had not been charged in connection with robbery.

“We are at this time not certain he’s connected to the bank robbery, though we strongly suspect the truck he was driving was involved in the commission of the robbery,” said St. Clair Township Police Chief Don Hyatt.

Township Police received word of the robbery at 9:47 a.m. Thursday and responded immediately to the bank, located at 46635 Y &O Road near the intersection of state Route 267 and Y&O Road in Glenmoor.

Township officers, provided with back up from the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Department, arrived to find the suspect had already fled the scene, and immediately set to work securing the area and reviewing the bank’s surveillance footage.

Hyatt said the bank’s surveillance footage showed a lone white male, estimated to be in his late 20s or early 30s, entering the bank around 9:44 a.m. and wearing a green jacket made of a wind breaker or nylon material.

The suspect also appeared to be wearing a plaid ball cap pulled snugly down over his forehead and a hooded sweatshirt underneath his jacket. Hyatt said the suspect was wearing dark-tinted glasses, but it is unclear whether the glasses are prescription or sunglasses. He had a goatee and moustache, both dark in color. Hyatt said the suspect appeared to have a stocky build and estimated him to be between 5-foot-7 and 5-8, weighing about 200 pounds.

The suspect did not produce a weapon while inside the bank, instead handing a bank teller a note demanding money. After receiving an undetermined amount of cash, the suspect fled outside to a white, early 2000s Ford Ranger pickup truck, said Hyatt. Footage captured by surveillance cameras showed the truck appeared not to have license plates, but did have a distinctive black rear bumper as well as a black grill insert.

The bank footage shows the vehicle headed southwest on Y&O Road. Surrounding law enforcement agencies and the Lisbon Post of the State Highway Patrol were put on alert and provided with a description of the vehicle.

At about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, two St. Clair Township officers, patrolling Y&O Road not far from the scene of the robbery, noticed a white Ford Ranger pickup matching the description of the one used in the robbery. The officers initiated a traffic stop, but the truck did not immediately stop. Hyatt, however, said he would not characterize the vehicle’s failure to stop as a pursuit.

Eventually, according to the chief, the driver pulled the truck into a private driveway along Y&O and Johnston was taken into custody as a “person of interest” in the bank robbery.

In addition to the charges associated with the stolen vehicle, Johnston also was cited for several traffic infractions that occurred while police followed him.

As of late evening Thursday, Hyatt said his department was waiting approval on a warrant to search the vehicle.

Hyatt said Johnston was expected to be interviewed further at County Jail by other agencies to see if he has an connection to the robbery.