NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) – Two people have been arrested in connection with a robbery at a shoe repair shop in Westmoreland County.

What happens when a business that is a landmark in a community like New Kensington gets robbed? Well, the community steps up, gets involved and helps police make a fast arrest.

The business was Gene’s Shoe Repair Shop on Fifth Avenue, and the owner Gene Montemuro has been in business 66 years. But an armed robbery at landmark store last month upset Montemuro and the entire community.

Now, police have two suspects in custody – 18-year-old Carlito Spence and 16-year-old Nasir Howard.

“We actually had someone come forward and give the detective that was investigating the case some information,” said Chief Thomas Klawinski, of New Kensington Police.

Police right now aren’t sure what the motive for the robbery was. They say Howard was the man with the gun.

And as frightening as the whole ordeal was for Montemuro, he now feels concern for the men who robbed him and their families.

“I feel bad for the mother and the father and their families because I am 100 percent sure they were my customers,” Montemuro said.

For now the shoe repair shop is closed for summer vacation. Montemuro will decide about the future once he’s had time to rest and reflect.

After all, he’s had a Gene Montemuro Day, and a lot of community support since the robbery first happened. He’s grateful right now for all of the concern he’s gotten lately from the town he calls home.

A town that helped capture the men who terrified him in a shop where he’s always felt comfortable.

“I wish I could hug each one individually,” said Montemuro.

“I’m proud of my officers and I’m proud of my community,” Chief Klawinski added.

Both suspects are being held at the Westmoreland County Jail.

Both are charged with robbery and conspiracy, and Howard, who is being charged as an adult, faces additional gun-related charges as well.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

Lynne Hayes-Freeland