Tragedy at Edinboro Wendy's: Employee shot during robbery, suspect in custody

Category:  News
Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 at 11:44 PM
Tragedy at Edinboro Wendy's: Employee shot during robbery, suspect in custody by Nathan Brennan
A crowd gathered for a vigil at Wendy's on Tuesday. The event was hosted by Samantha Vannoy, pastor of Hillcrest Church of Nazarene in Edinboro, along with Edinboro Neighbors. | Photo: Jamie Heinrich

An employee was shot and killed during a robbery Saturday at the Edinboro area Wendy’s restaurant. The victim is 22-year-old Alexander Cavanah of Edinboro. He was shot once in the leg and once in the abdomen during the robbery, according to GoErie.

He was pronounced dead at 3 p.m. on Saturday at UPMC Hamot.

Pennsylvania State Police arrested 20-year-old Markese Lampley that same day in connection with the event, and he is being charged with numerous crimes, including murder of the first- and second-degree, robbery, fleeing and attempting to elude police.

According to a Pennsylvania criminal docket sheet, he is currently in Erie County Prison, and his bail was denied due to “possible life sentences and/or death sentence.” His preliminary hearing, as of publication, is set for Feb. 7 at 9 a.m. in front of Magisterial District Judge Denise Stuck-Lewis.

An eyewitness on the scene spoke with The Spectator in the aftermath of the event.

The witness was in the Wendy’s drive-thru, waiting to pay, when they saw a man wearing a black jacket and helmet aboard a red and black motorcycle pull up. The man, still wearing the helmet, walked inside and went behind the counter with a young employee.

Erie News Now would report that the individual, now being identified by police as Lampley, forced that employee to take him to the back where the money is stored in the vault. “During that time, Lampley shot Cavanah, according to state police.”

The eyewitness continued, picking up with them sitting in the drive-thru: “Next thing we know, we hear a shot, like a pop, and my boyfriend said, ‘What was that?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And we heard a second one, and he said, ‘That’s a gunshot, go, go, go.’”

When the shots rang out, the pair quickly drove away from the Wendy’s up to a stop sign, when they heard someone come from the door, saying, “We just got robbed, call 911.”

The witness then saw the suspect escape the Wendy’s, driving away on the motorcycle.

Erie News Now reported that Lampley eventually began driving a black BMW, which state police attempted to stop around 5 p.m. Saturday. The pursuit ended on Interstate 90 west. State police reportedly stopped the car with tire deflation devices, bringing the chase to an end and Lampley into custody.

Erie News Now also made mention of additional case-related searches and questioning. Three others were taken in for questioning at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, while the police searched an apartment that evening where the motorcycle and two handguns were found, allegedly belonging to Lampley. According to GoErie, James Gilmore has been charged by the FBI with “lying to agents.” He is not being charged with direct involvement with the shooting, but “of lying to agents about the whereabouts of the man charged in the killing.” He was also in the black BMW with Lampley at one point.

When contacting the FBI about these additional investigations, their public affairs officer Catherine Policicchio said: “FBI Pittsburgh did assist our local and state partners in their investigation. It is the FBI policy not to confirm or deny the existence of any federal investigation.”

In an email to all students and faculty on Sunday evening, Edinboro University President Dr. Guiyou Huang addressed the situation: “It was an unsettling incident for our campus community, local residents, and the business establishments that serve those of us who live, go to school, and work here. Effects of the shooting will stay with us for some time.”

He added, “At this very sad time, let us find comfort in the strength of our community and offer any support we can to each other and those we encounter as we travel around the borough and stop in local businesses.” He also reminded everyone that if any student or faculty member feels the need, they may seek counseling at the Ghering Health and Wellness Center or the State Employee Assistance Program.

Huang concluded, “Please be mindful of Alexander’s family in the days, weeks and months ahead, and keep them in your prayers.”

On Facebook, Cavanah’s father-in-law Rodney Johnson wrote, in part, “Alex is well loved and cared for [by] many. He was always full of life and ready for an adventure. He was full of dreams and ambitions.”

A vigil was held for Cavanah on Tuesday in the Wendy’s parking lot. The event was hosted by Samantha Vannoy, pastor of Hillcrest Church of Nazarene in Edinboro, along with Edinboro Neighbors. Vannoy was Cavanah’s pastor since this summer. Maria Dennis, who grew up with Cavanah, said, “He was the kindest person. And everyone says that after someone dies, but everyone said that about Alex when he was alive.”

When Wendy’s reopened on Wednesday, all proceeds that day went to Cavanah’s wife with the restaurant additionally matching that amount in its entirety.

Additional reporting by Dylan Baumgartner.

This is an update of our story from Monday, Jan. 27.

Additional Photos:

Photo: Ben McCulloughA crowd gathered for a vigil at Wendy's on Tuesday. The event was hosted by Samantha Vannoy, pastor of Hillcrest Church of Nazarene in Edinboro, along with Edinboro Neighbors. | Photo: Jamie Heinrich
 

View Our YouTube Channel
Edinboro TV
 
Find Us on Instagram