A 21-year-old man who told police he was homeless and afflicted by mental disorders has been arrested in connection with a series of robberies — some of them at gunpoint — in several Pittsburgh neighborhoods over a six-day period.
Officers took Arrington Stine, 21, of Verona into custody Friday during a traffic stop on East Hills Drive in the city’s East Hills section.
Criminal complaints for the five cases in which charges have been filed state that Mr. Stine admitted to police that the image of a man caught on surveillance video in each incident was him.
The crimes for which Mr. Stine was charged involve sometimes violent robberies or attempted robberies that took place between Dec. 30 and Thursday.
Police said that Mr. Stine was “developed as a suspect” during the investigation and brought to police headquarters on the North Side after being pulled over early Friday night. No details were provided about the circumstances of Mr. Stine’s arrest or how detectives identified him as a suspect.
Charges filed against Mr. Stine include robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault. Two cases carried drug and gun charges.
Some of the gun charges indicate that Mr. Stine was not allowed to carry a firearm because he was either deemed incompetent or involuntarily committed at some point to a mental institution.
In the earliest incident — around 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 — two victims told investigators that the robber tried to take money from the cash register of a Walgreens at a shopping center in the 5900 block of Centre Avenue in Shadyside while a cashier was ringing up an orange soda. One of the victims pushed the robber to stop him from stealing the cash, but the man later identified as Mr. Stine started yelling and pulled money from the drawer, a criminal complaint said. He got into a vehicle.
Three days later, another complaint said, the manager of Fine Wine & Spirits in the same shopping center as the Walgreens told police that on Tuesday around 9:38 p.m. a man held a gun to his head, demanded money and threatened to blow his head off.
The next evening, Wednesday, around 6:41 p.m., police said Mr. Stine robbed a Dollar General in the 4700 block of Centre Avenue in Bloomfield. Surveillance video showed the robber pointing a gun at a cashier, demanding money. The cashier grabbed the gun, and the robber left.
When police asked Mr. Stine about the incident, he laughed and said, “Yea[h], that was messed up. I messed up. I held the gun with one hand over the counter, and they snatched it off of me. I didn’t know what to do, so I ran,” a complaint said.
About 20 minutes after the Dollar General was struck, police responded to a call at the Fuel-On convenience store in the 5700 block of Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. The victim told police that the robber handed over an incorrect amount of money to buy something and while the cash register was open, he grabbed about $120 and ran.
The final robbery for which Mr. Stine is charged took place Thursday around 8:36 p.m. at the Shell gas station in the 5700 block of Baum Boulevard in East Liberty.
Witnesses told responding officers about a scuffle inside the store. They said the robber tried to get change for a $5 bill, lunged for the cash register drawer when it opened and pushed a person over.
The person threw the drawer at the robber, who ran out and then came back in, a complaint said.
A customer then pushed the robber away and held him against an ATM machine. But the robber punched the customer in the face before leaving in an SUV.
Police found the vehicle around 7 p.m. Friday. Mr. Stine was a passenger in the vehicle and wore the same clothes as the robber, the complaint said. Detectives confiscated the clothing — his blue coat, tan cargo pants and work boots.
“Stine stated that this robbery didn’t go as planned and got all messed up. Stine stated he got into a fight with a male customer when he tried to grab the cash that was on the floor, resulting in lacerations to his hands. Stine stated he only got $25,” a complaint said.
Asked why he robbed the store, Mr. Stine told investigators that his mother had thrown him out and he was off his medication.
While police publicized the hunt for the robber during the week, they also named two other establishments that were struck that they believed were hit by the same criminal: Primanti Brothers on 18th Street in the Strip District and Warrington Beer in the 800 block of East Warrington Avenue in Allentown.
Court records do not show Mr. Stine being charged with either of those robberies, and it was unclear Saturday whether he was a suspect in them.
Mr. Stine faces a non-jury trial March 1 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on a case brought by Monroeville police for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail.