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Three suspects nabbed in attempted armed robbery

A Blair Township police officer was in the right place at the right time yesterday and just may have found the first piece of a robbery spree puzzle that has been ongoing since late November.
At 10:30 p.m. last evening, officer Jeremy Hetrick was on surveillance duty at the Uni-Mart store located along state Route 764 in Duncansville. It was then that he observed a silver-colored Ford Taurus pull behind the store.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed with District Magistrate Fred Miller of Tyrone, a male later identified as Jay Andrew Szramowski, 25, of Pittsburgh entered the store and approached the counter. A short time later, Hetrick said he observed the man running from the store and a getaway car fleeing from the scene.
Hetrick radioed other officers and a traffic stop was conducted on Interstate 99 North between the Altoona 17th Street exit and the Pinecroft exit. Inside the vehicle were Szramowski, 29-year-old Eric Sager Sr. of Hollidaysburg and 20-year-old James Schaltenbrand of Pittsburgh.
Later that evening, police interviewed Uni-Mart clerk Ashley Eaken who said she was robbed.
She told police that a lone male entered the store, walked to the counter and demanded money. She said she opened the register’s drawer to give him the money, but he stopped her and stated he wanted the money in the slots.
According to the affidavit, he took money consisting largely of five and one dollar bills and a roll of pennies.
Eaken told police that he demanded a cash box from under the counter, but when she told him the store no longer kept such a box, he made a movement toward his right hip with his right hand as if reaching for a weapon. Eaken said she was very afraid that he was reaching for a knife or gun and that she was about to be hurt.
She said when she told him again that she didn’t have any more money, he fled the store.
This same store was the target of an armed robbery just three days ago.
According to Hetrick’s affidavit, all three defendants were interviewed at the state police barracks in Hollidaysburg where they gave verbal recorded confessions in which they admitted to conspiracy and robbery in this matter and similar recent incidents. They had in their possession drug paraphernalia and a toy handgun.
Although police didn’t comment on the involvement in the recent robbery spree, investigations are ongoing.
On Nov. 30, an armed robbery occurred at Martin’s Grocery Store on Glimcher Drive in Blair Township. Then on Dec. 2 and 4, Mielnik’s Town and Country Store located along state Route 22 in Frankstown Township was robbed.
Each of the men were charged with robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery and theft by unlawful taking. They were committed to the Blair County Prison.
Bail for Szramowski and Schaltenbrand was set at $70,000 straight each, and Sager’s bail was set at $65,000 straight. Preliminary hearings are tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 18 before District Justice Jones.