Bank robbery suspect arrested

NILES — After a bank in Liberty was robbed Friday afternoon, police from several agencies quickly found the suspect hiding in a house on John Street.

The PNC Bank on Belmont Avenue at Churchill Road was robbed around 3:30 p.m. by a white man in his 30s with blond hair, a brown jacket and a black hat who left in a blue car reported stolen the day before from a hotel in Liberty, according to a police report.

Michael Scott Williams, 36, was booked into the Trumbull County Jail around 7 p.m. Friday, charged in Girard Municipal Court with felony charges of robbery, receiving stolen property and failure to comply with the order of a police officer. No court date has been set.

Liberty police detective Sgt. Ray Buhala said the bank robber passed a bank teller a note demanding cash. A witness took down the license plate number before he fled the scene and 911 dispatchers shared the information with all local police departments, Buhala said.

“It doesn’t usually happen like this, but we were lucky to have that witness and officers in Warren and Niles did some good police work,” Buhala said. “We located him minutes after the robbery.”

The stolen car was spotted by Warren police and they pursued the driver to Niles, where he ditched the car in a yard on East Madison Avenue, Niles police Capt. Robert Miketa said. Miketa said the police chase went through several jurisdictions, including Warren, Howland, Weathersfield and Niles.

Police from Warren, Niles and Weathersfield, along with troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, searched yards with guns drawn and knocked on doors in the area of John Street and Franklin Avenue after witnesses said they saw the man run into a yard in the 600 block of John Street.

Police saw footprints in the snow leading to 613 John Street in the direction witnesses said they saw the man run. Someone inside the home could be seen quickly peeking out from behind a curtain before police searched the yard, surrounded the home and knocked on the door.

Police were ultimately given consent to search the home, Miketa said.

“After interviewing people inside the home we were given permission to enter and we located a man matching the description of the robbery suspect,” Miketa said.

Two people were taken into custody. The first man brought out of the home, who had blonde hair, was handcuffed and put in a police car. Shortly after he was brought out the man who answered the door was handcuffed and arrested by Niles police.

One police officer yelled at the man who answered the door for “lying to my face.”

Reporter Renee Fox contributed to this report