Search for bank robber leads to stolen truck

GLENMOOR-A man who authorities are calling “a person of interest” in the Thursday morning robbery of Home Savings and Loan in Glenmoor is being held at the county jail.

Brian Keith Johnston, 42, of Y&O Road, East Liverpool, was taken into custody after it was determined the vehicle he was driving – which matched the description of the one used during the robbery – had been reported stolen.

Township police responded to the bank at 46635 Y &O Road at 9:47 a.m. Thursday and, assisted by the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Department, arrived to find the suspect had already fled the scene.

St. Clair Township Police Chief Don 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. 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-inches and 5-foot, 8 inches, weighing about 200 pounds.

The suspect did not produce a weapon while inside the bank, instead handing a 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, Hyatt said. 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 driver’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. However, he had not been charged in connection with the 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,” Hyatt said.

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 any connection to the robbery.