ELYRIA — A Grafton man is facing two counts of aggravated robbery after police said he pulled a gun on two different acquaintances on separate occasions and threatened to harm them if they did not give him money and valuables.
The search for 19-year-old Paul Montanaro started Dec. 21 when police were called to Mercy Regional Medical Center and met a man who told them he thought he was helping a friend but ended up getting hurt and robbed.
Police Capt. Chris Costantino said the victim said Montanaro called him just after 2 a.m. asking for help and immediately needing $20. The victim drove to the Wilkes Villa complex to pick up Montanaro and the two drove to an ATM on South Abbe Road.
Once the victim pulled out his bank card, Montanaro pulled out a gun and demanded all the money his friend had in the bank. But when he told him he only had $200, Montanaro began repeatedly hitting him in the head and face with the butt of the gun, Costantino said.
Montanaro said he needed more money or his family would be hurt, but police could not confirm any member of his family was ever in danger.
After more than a half-dozen strikes, police said Montanaro wanted to prove the gun was real and allegedly pulled the trigger with the gun pressed to the victim’s head. He then pulled a single bullet from his pocket and loaded the gun.
Costantino said Montanaro got out of the car after dropping his cell phone under a seat. The victim floored the gas as soon as Montanaro stepped out. He drove to the Lorain hospital, where he received several stitches to a cut above him eye.
He was able to identify Montanaro from a police lineup, but officers were unable to find Montanaro that day.
Costantino said Montanaro struck again Dec. 27, robbing a woman he called, asking if she wanted to buy a few gift cards he received as Christmas presents. The woman, who knew Montanaro through mutual friends, told the 19-year-old to come by her Cascade Street home.
While there, Montanaro received a phone call, stepped outside and returned a short time later with another man. The two men went into the woman’s bedroom, and demanded she give them all her valuables after one of them pulled out a gun.
They ran from the home after she said she was calling the police. Police could not locate him when they went to the woman’s home.
Thursday, police received a tip Montanaro was at an apartment on Portia Court. He was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and receiving stolen property.
Police recovered a .45-caliber Glock handgun that was reported stolen in Avon.
Montanaro was being held in the Lorain County Jail. No bond has been set.
He reportedly told police he was homeless and unemployed but offered no explanation for the crime spree.