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January 18, 2013

Couple arrested in Edward’s robbery

NEW CASTLE — An Oil City man accused of robbing Edward’s Restaurant with a plastic BB gun Wednesday night is in jail.

His alleged accomplice, a woman who drove the getaway car, also is incarcerated.

The hold-up occurred around 11:40 p.m., just before closing time, according to New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem.

Officers arrested Ward W. Wise, 22, who is a former employee of Edward’s, and Emily Grace Book, 18, of 1804 E. Washington St.

According to accounts from the bartender and five men at the bar, a man dressed all in black, later identified as Wise, walked through the back door with a rifle, pointed it at them and told them not to move.

The bartender told police she had been walking toward him and, realizing what was happening, threw a brown bag with money and said, “I have the money, take it.”

Wise picked up the bag, walked behind the bar, took the money box, then left through the back door, the witnesses said.

The restaurant’s owner told police how much money was in the brown bag and the box, nearly $2,000. He also showed them a surveillance video of the holdup.

His wife told police Wise had worked at Edward’s for about three months in 2010.

Just after the robbery, a Neshannock Township patrolman spotted a man dressed all in black, walking south toward a Toyota Camry on nearby Locust Street. When the officer activated his emergency lights, the man sped up and got into the car, dropping a brown bag onto the ground, according to police.

The officer stopped the Camry, and another Neshannock officer and two city police arrived. They spotted a rifle in the car.

Wise, the passenger, wore a black shirt over his face. The brown bag contained cash, and the money box from Edward’s was on the front passenger’s side floor. Police said the bag and the box collectively contained the exact amount of money reported missing.

Police confiscated the rifle, which they discovered was a plastic M4-style BB gun.

Book told officers she had dropped Wise off on Locust Street about 10 minutes before the police had stopped them, but said she didn’t know why. She said she didn’t think to ask him about his clothing and the gun, police said, but she later told officers that Wise had used her shirt to cover his face.

Wise admitted the robbery to the police but denied Book had dropped him off. He said he walked out and saw her car “just sitting there.”

Wise is charged with one count each of robbery, theft and receiving stolen property, and six counts each of terroristic threats and simple assault.

Book is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, theft and receiving stolen property.

They were held overnight in the Lawrence County jail and arraigned Thursday by District Judge Melissa A. Amodie. She set Wise’s bond at $50,000 and Book’s at $7,500.

Their preliminary hearings are set for Thursday.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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