Bingo volunteers thwart armed robbery of their cash

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 17-year-old woman is facing 15 charges after police in the town of Tonawanda said she attempted to hold up a bingo game at local a Catholic school.

The weekly Saturday bingo game had just gotten underway May 6 at Cardinal O’Hara High School, when the young woman, armed with a handgun, showed up in the money room.

“There’s several people in the room where the money is being counted,” said Town of Tonawanda Capt. Joseph Carosi. “This woman is able to enter the room, and displays a handgun and demands the money,”

The teen may have thought a Catholic school bingo game was an easy target, but she quickly learned otherwise.

Before anyone could hand over the money, multiple volunteers — some 60 years her senior — tackled the would-be robber, and kicked her gun to the side.

“At this point, one of the other employees, who was not seated at the table, is able to get behind her and restrain her.”

Town of Tonawanda Police records recount the incident in detail.

The reporting officer, who entered the building with his gun drawn, said, “As I rounded the corner of the hallway, I observed approximately 4 males holding the suspect on the ground…”

The gun turned out to be unloaded, and News 4 is not naming the suspect because of her potential to be charged as a youthful offender.

But that could be tough to prove, given she faces 15 charges, including robbery with a deadly weapon and multiple counts of assault.

“During the point of when she was being restrained, she injured several of the parties, so that brought forth more charges.”

Carosi said while the volunteers’ heroic acts may make for a good story, such responses should be left to law enforcement.

“We would never encourage persons to fight back, risking their own lives,”  Carosi said. “These gentlemen having the ability to fight back and disarm and restrain this person is, again, a commendable act, but something that we don’t want to encourage others to do.”

The administration at Cardinal O’Hara issued a statement in response to the incident.

“We are always grateful to our volunteers for their dedication of time and effort to help the school,” the statement read. “To respect their privacy, and to be mindful of the fact that they may now be considered witnesses in a legal proceeding, we will leave this issue in the hands of law enforcement.”

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