A bald man wearing a hairy mask making him look much older passed a note at a restaurant near Pittsburgh about threats to two nearby schools – part of a ruse to create a diversion for his planned bank robbery, police said.
Luke Dell, 35, walked into a Bob Evans Restaurant in North Huntingdon Township, about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, about 9:15 a.m. Tuesday and gave a worker a note saying there was an active shooter threat and bombs at Norwin and Jeannette high schools.
The Beavercreek, Ohio, man then left the eatery and was seen driving off in a black Dodge Charger, cops said. Employees gave police a description of the suspect and, more importantly, his license plate number.
“The mask was a very high-quality mask, made him look like he was in his late 60s, early 70s when in fact he was a 35-year-old male,” North Huntingdon Police Chief Robert Rizzo told CBS Pittsburgh.
The license plate was registered to a Kia from Robbins Road in North Huntigdon. Responding officers discovered a Kia at the address with its plate removed.
A police officer came across a black Dodge Charger with the stolen Kia plate, whose driver admitted that he had passed the note to get authorities to respond to the schools, officials said.
The bumbling suspect apparently forgot to take off the mask, which he was still wearing when taken into custody, according to the police statement.
Dell told police he planned to rob a bank in the Circleville area, but never made it there. No weapons or explosives were found in his vehicle.
He faces a slew of charges, including making terrorist threats, causing or risking catastrophe, reckless threat to use a weapon of mass destruction and theft.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 29 years behind bars and fines over $50,000.
As a precaution, schools were placed on modified lockdown as police investigated Tuesday morning with bomb-sniffing dogs.
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