Police investigate students after robbery

By Zoë Hannah and Dale Shoemaker / Pitt News Staff

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

What started out as a report of a home invasion Wednesday night in South Oakland has turned into a drug investigation involving several Pitt students.

Pittsburgh police responded to a 911 call from the home of five students on Juliet Street around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Once there, police found Fox Chapel resident Aleksander Wojnaroski had broken into the house, threatened one of the roommates with an airsoft gun and attempted to rob the students, according to the police report.

After handcuffing Wojnaroski and one of the roommates, police swept the house, finding marijuana and multiple items of drug paraphernalia, the report said.

Police have charged Wojnaroski, 18, with attempted burglary, robbery and using an airsoft gun to commit the crimes, according to the police report.

Pittsburgh police Zone 4 commander Daniel Herrmann said officers would file arrest papers for some of the roommates after determining who owned the drugs.

Police spokesperson Sonya Toler said police have not yet determined if there is an existing relationship between Wojnaroski and the victims. Thomas Chang, a roommate who was not home during the invasion, said he did not know Wojnaroski.

According to the report, Leo Hildebrandt, another roommate and sophomore, told police he heard someone break the front door handle and a window Wednesday evening.

Aftering hearing Wojnaroski enter the house, the report said, Hildebrandt grabbed a baseball bat. Wojnaroski pointed an airsoft gun at Hildebrandt and told him to drop the bat and lead him upstairs.

Once on the second floor, Wojnaroski told Hildebrant to wait on the stairs while he used his shoulder to break into the bedroom of sophomore Isaac Callihan, according to the police report.

According to the report, police arrived and found Ben Morgenstern, one of the roommates, lying on the rear porch. Six city police officers and several Pitt police officers surrounded the house while Pitt Police officer Frank Mlay and another officer entered the house through the back door.

Police said Wojnaroski saw the responding officers from the bedroom window and left his gun on Callihan’s dresser.

According to the report, police told Wojnaroski and Hildebrandt to put their hands in the air and to drop to the floor. Police cuffed them both before searching the house, where they found Benjamin Friedman, a sophomore engineering student, hiding in a second-floor bedroom.

During their search, officers found glass bongs, plastic baggies, vacuum bag remnants, marijuana grinders and a backpack filled with Ziploc bags of marijuana, the report said.

The report also said the baggies were “associated with storing marijuana” and the type of vacuum bags found are “commonly used for transporting large quantities of marijuana.”

Herrmann said Thursday evening the police confiscated the drugs and paraphernalia and transferred it to the police’s crime lab for analysis.

Hildebrandt declined to comment via phone call and text messages on the invasion, the confiscation of the drugs and any pending charges.

Chang, a sophomore, and Morgenstern declined to comment via phone call and text messages on the invasion and the confiscation of the drugs and did not respond to several requests asking for comment on any pending charges.

Callihan hung up the phone when called for comment on the robbery and confiscation and did not respond to a message asking for comment on any pending charges. Friedman did not respond to several phone calls.

Wojnaroski’s bail is set at $25,000. He is currently in Allegheny County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing set for Feb. 3 at 12:30 p.m.

Leave a comment.