'Crazy' gun assault in Shamokin lands boy, 15, in county prison
By Mark Gilger
SHAMOKIN - The victim of Sunday night's armed robbery in the city said he was standing on his porch at 158 N. Eighth St. at about 9:15 p.m. when he saw a young male going through his neighbor's Jeep.
A moment later, the intruder, who police say is 15, approached Daniel McKimm and told him he had five seconds to give him his cell phone. The boy then began to count down from five.
McKimm, 19, told police he threw his black T-Mobile phone, ran into his home and called police.
A short time later, guns drawn, police took Joel Santiago into custody about six blocks away after they found him lying next to a parked car on Commerce Street between The News-Item and Center City Apartments.
Santiago, of 819 E. Dewart St., Shamokin, was charged as an adult with multiple offenses, including robbery and aggravated assault.
The crime has people talking, and police officers shaking their heads.
"Thank God nobody got killed," city Patrolman Raymond Siko II said Monday. "It's crazy. This was a 15-year-old boy. The actions of some of today's youth are mind-boggling."
Siko said the weapon used by Santiago, which was recovered, is a compressed-air pellet gun that is a replica of a semi-automatic handgun.
"It really looks like a handgun," Siko said. "It weighs the same as a handgun and has all the same features."
Bail set at $100,000
Santiago was arraigned at 1:35 a.m. Monday by on-call Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III on three felony counts of robbery, a felony of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two misdemeanor counts of possessing an instrument of crime, a misdemeanor of simple assault and a summary of loitering and prowling at night.
He was committed to Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury in lieu of $100,000 cash bail and is scheduled to face a preliminary hearing on the charges before Gembic at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15.
A prison spokesman said Monday that Santiago is part of the adult population and has a cellmate, but that there will be increased supervision because of his age.
Siko said charges relating to vehicle break-ins are pending against a 12-year-old South Rock Street boy who was with Santiago. The 12-year-old, who has cooperated with police, will not be charged in connection with the robbery, Siko said.
Police said some coins were removed from the Jeep on North Eighth Street, which is owned by Dennis Cavanaugh.
McKimm told police the boy he saw in his neighbor's car was wearing jeans, a black hoodie and a black backpack.
Upon responding to the robbery call, placed at 9:17 p.m., Siko spotted Santiago and the 12-year-old male, who was wearing a red hoodie, in the area of Shakespeare and Rock streets. Siko said Santiago spotted police and ran north on Rock Street, while the other juvenile fled south on Rock Street. Police said Santiago threw something into a vacant lot at EyeSense, at the corner of Rock and Independence streets, as he ran west on Independence. He turned north on Washington Street and then east on Commerce, a narrow, one-way street.
When police found him lying by the vehicle on Commerce Street, between Rock and Shamokin, he initially refused commands to stay on the ground and show his hands. Siko said he eventually assisted Santiago to the ground and handcuffed him.
Siko said police learned that Santiago had attempted to enter an unoccupied, running vehicle on Commerce Street before a pedestrian, Jeff Pacocha, of Shamokin, who witnessed the foot pursuit, ordered the suspect to get on the ground. Santiago eventually did when police closed in on him with their weapons drawn.
Siko said police pulled their guns on Santiago because they thought he was still in possession of the gun used in the robbery, but it was found later in the lot next to EyeSense.
While searching the suspect, Officer Nathan Rhodes recovered the cell phone that McKimm later identified as his.
Other boy captured
Information was later obtained by police about the identity and residence of the 12 year old. Siko, Ralpho Township Patrolman Chris Grow, Coal Township Deputy Chief Chris Williams and Coal Township Patrolman Joshua Wynn took the second suspect into custody at his home.
During an interview with the 12-year-old and his mother at 10:15 p.m. at the city police station, the youth told police Santiago had shown him a gun earlier in the day and threatened him with it at one point.
He said sometime after dark he was walking through Wendy's parking lot on East Independence Street when Santiago entered a parked car. When he questioned Santiago about entering the car, Santiago reportedly told him he needed a GPS.
The 12-year-old said he left the area, but Santiago followed him to Eighth Street, where he entered Cavanaugh's Jeep. The 12-year-old said he yelled, "What are you doing?" to Santiago before walking away. As he was walking away, the boy said he spotted Santiago, who covered his face with a hood, pull a gun from his waist band, point it at McKimm and order him to give up his cell phone.
The 12-year-old said at that point, he got scared and ran away. He said Santiago caught up to him on Water Street and threatened him if he told anybody about the robbery. According to the boy, Santiago said he was going "to call people from Philadelphia and have them there in five days to take care of him."
The boy said he then ran when he saw a police car approaching.
At 10:30 p.m. in the presence of his mother, Sadie Alequin, Santiago was read his Miranda rights, but told police he didn't speak English or understand his rights. Officers made attempts through other police, probation and local hospitals to contact a Spanish-speaking interpreter to assist with the interview, but were unable to do so.
Earlier, Santiago, when he was being led into the police station by Rhodes, was heard saying, "I'm just really scared right now," in English.
Shamokin Police Chief Edward Griffiths commended his officers for apprehending Santiago so quickly, and warned residents to always keep their vehicles locked. He said break-ins are becoming more prevalent.
Griffiths also praised Pacocha for his assistance.