CHERRYHILL TOWNSHIP — State police said a male employee of Pike’s Peak Nurseries tackled an armed robber and disarmed him during an altercation Wednesday at the business along Route 422.
The suspect, identified as Justin S. Ludwig, 37, of Warren, was arrested by state police at Indiana a short time later and lodged in the Indiana County Jail.
He is facing multiple charges in connection with two separate incidents Wednesday involving the Pike’s Peak incident and a burglary at a residence in Cherryhill Township.
Ludwig was charged Wednesday with felony counts of burglary, theft by unlawful taking or disposition before Blairsville Magisterial District Judge Jennifer J. Rega and jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail while awaiting preliminary arraignment.
On Thursday, state police filed charges against Ludwig of felony robbery and felony criminal attempt of theft by unlawful taking or disposition and a misdemeanor count of terroristic threats before Rega in the Pike’s Peak incident. Ludwig is awaiting preliminary arraignment for that incident as well.
According to a news release, state police were dispatched to a disturbance at Pike’s Peak nursery around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Investigating Officer Allison J. Gowsick said troopers were advised of an active altercation between two individuals in the parking lot, and one, identified as Ludwig, was in possession of a firearm.
Goswick said Ludwig told police he arrived at Pike’s Peak on foot and was asking employees for assistance with transportation. Ludwig said he left SpiritLife Inc., a nearby drug and alcohol treatment facility, earlier that day and had no transportation.
While inside the nursery building, Ludwig again requested transportation from various staff members before a confrontation ensued, police said.
“During this conversation, Mr. Ludwig is alleged to have then displayed a pistol, pointed it at two adult Pike’s Peak Nursery employees — one male and one female — and ordered them to get on the ground and open a safe,” Goswick said. “The male employee refused to open the safe, at which time Mr. Ludwig threatened to strike him with the pistol.”
Police said the employee then tackled Ludwig, escorted him out of the building and disarmed him. Meanwhile, the female employee called 911.
“Upon arriving on scene, the first responding trooper observed Mr. Ludwig engaged in a physical altercation with the male employee in the parking lot,” Goswick said. “The trooper gave verbal commands and Mr. Ludwig was taken into custody without incident (at 5:06 p.m.).”
Goswick reported that police recovered the pistol, an unloaded .40-caliber Beretta, which was registered to a nearby resident of North Harmony Road.
Troopers went to that residence and observed a broken door window. The occupant of the residence arrived home and confirmed that a burglary had occurred.
Officers discovered that in addition to the pistol, three additional firearms were stolen from the residence, as well as a Samsung tablet, jewelry, knives, coins and a Roku device.
Goswick said the items were all recovered after they were found in a pillow case that Ludwig had brought inside Pike’s Peak.