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Manhunt Called Off After Armed Robbery Of Bar In Montgomery County; No Suspects In Custody

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Jan Carabeo joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Jim Melwert, Jenn Bernstein and Ileana Diaz

WHITPAIN TOWNSHIP, Pa (CBS) — Police have called off a manhunt following an armed bar robbery in Montgomery County, though they say they have not yet apprehended the suspects.

Police were searching for hours for two armed gunmen who robbed a bar in Whitpain Township overnight.

The incident happened about 1:30am at the Whitpain Tavern, on the 1500 block of Dekalb Pike in Blue Bell, Pa.

Sgt. Cathy Penecale, of the Whitpain Police Department said, “They were armed. They took the safe, from what we understand. It is unknown what else was taken.”

(Robber holds an employee by the neck while rifling the cash register at the Whitpain Tavern.  Surveillance photo provided)

(Robber holds an employee by the neck while rifling the cash register at the Whitpain Tavern. Surveillance photo provided)

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Authorities say two masked men robbed the bar and then made off in a stolen red Mustang which was spotted by responding officers about a mile north of the tavern at Routes 73 and 202.

Police followed the car as other officers set up spiked strips to blow out the car’s tires, but the driver veered off the road into a ditch on the campus of Montgomery County Community College. The suspects abandoned the car and ran off on foot.

The college was placed on lockdown as police, with the assistance of K-9 units and a helicopter, searched the perimeter of the campus and nearby access roads.

“We are canvassing that area, deploying men in such a way that we can cover as much of that area as possible,” said Sgt. Cathy Penecale.

Police were also asking people who live in the area to be on alert.

“We’re suggesting that as residents leave their homes this morning and as businesses begin to open up, that they could please be extra diligent, be extra careful in checking the area,” said Whitpain Township police sergeant Cathy Penecale, “and make sure that everything appears safe before they walk outside.”

Police say the robbers got away with a safe from the bar. It wasn’t initially clear if it was recovered, but there were reports of a safe found outside O’Grady’s Family Restaurant in Souderton, about 20 minutes away, earlier this morning, though there was no immediate word on whether that safe is connected to the Montgomery County robbery.

(A  masked robber carries a safe down the stairs behind the Whitpain Tavern.  Surveillance photo provided)

(A masked robber carries a safe down the stairs behind the Whitpain Tavern. Surveillance photo provided)

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The start of classes for students of the college was pushed back from 8 a.m. to noon as a result of the manhunt, and students were notified by text.

Ronald Snodgrass wasn’t signed up for the alerts, so he still came to campus — like a few others — who were unaware school was not in session.

“12:10 is when I’m done with all my classes, so pretty much I have to go home and not go to school today,” Snodgrass said.

Another student, Tiasia Fields said, “I was scared because I didn’t know what the circumstances were.”

Some staff members were allowed back on campus early, however.

An instructor, Gerri Williams, said she wasn’t too surprised by the incident, “I think these things happen more often than we realize, so it was sad.”

Police say they did a thorough search of the area and that it is safe. Now, they’ll have to find the suspects using what they have. They’re hoping that the Mustang, which was stolen, has clues that could lead them to the two suspects still on the loose.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Whitpain Township Police at 610-279-9033.

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