A Brentwood man suspected of robbing a Moon grocery store barricaded himself in his home Sunday night and slit his own throat before SWAT officers took him into custody.
said Christopher Lyons, 31, is a suspect in the holdup Sunday afternoon at on University Boulevard. Police said Lyons walked into the grocery about 12:15 p.m. and presented a note to a teller at the Citizens Bank in the store. The note said a robbery was underway, police said.
Police said the teller gave the man an undisclosed amount of cash, which contained an exploding dye pack. The robber fled with the cash, which exploded in the store parking lot before he drove away in a Cadillac Escalade. Witnesses later saw the car on Ohio River Boulevard, police said.
After examining store surveillance-video footage, authorities traced the registration on the vehicle to Lyons’ home at 103 Beisner Ave. in Brentwood. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman authorized a warrant for Moon Police detectives to search the home.
Officers from the South Hills Council of Governments SWAT team, which includes Moon officers, entered the home at 6:40 p.m. When SWAT officers found Lyons, they said he was wielding a gun and knife and had slit his own throat.
Moon Police Chief Leo McCarthy said Lyons refused to put the weapons down and barricaded himself in the home. Officers lobbed tear gas into the home and negotiated with Lyons until about 11 p.m., when he surrendered.
Lyons was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital by ambulance and underwent surgery for his self-inflicted neck wounds. His condition is not yet available.
McCarthy said Lyons’ vehicle has been seized and is being examined at the Moon Township Public Safety Building. Lyons is charged by Brentwood Police with violating laws prohibiting a convicted felon from possessing a firearm. In 2002, Lyons was found guilty of receiving stolen property in a Brentwood case, according to court records.
Lyons has not been formally charged in the Moon robbery. McCarthy said an investigation is ongoing.
Store management declined to comment Sunday following the robbery and the store remained open to costumers.
Witnesses outside the reported seeing a cloud of red smoke in the parking lot following the robbery and a large black sport-utility vehicle leaving the area, police said. Money stained with red dye was found in the same area, police added.
Moon Police summoned the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the armed robbery.
In 2003, Lyons was dubbed the "Main Street Robber" by investigators in Butler County after he was convicted of robbing a string of county banks and escaping with more than $5,000. Reports said he used the money to pay his landlord.
Lyons, who used to work as a bank teller, slipped a handwritten note to bank employees before robbing them, much as he did in Sunday's Moon incident.
Neighbors on Beisner and on nearby Lawnview Avenue said that Lyons lived by himself with only a pet dog.
"He's been here about two years and never bothered anybody," said one woman who lives on Beisner Avenue. "Never spoke. Kept to himself. Was quiet. Didn't really speak to anybody."
Theresa Caporali, who lives at 3194 Lawnview, across the street from 103 Beisner, said that she knew Lyons well enough to have brief conversations with him.
"He loved his dog," said Caporali, who spoke from her front lawn while she held her 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Mimi. "I'm a dog lover, and (his dog) was the sweetest.
"He was nice. I'm so upset. I can't believe it. What would have possessed him? And then he came here. He was here all day. He was holed up here all day. His vehicle was here.
" ... I can't imagine who on this street would have robbed a bank, never thinking it (could have been) him."
Caporali said she couldn't think of any reason that Lyons would steal money.
"He worked," she said. "Quarter after 6, every morning, he would leave for work, like clockwork. (And he came home) around dinnertime."