BARTONSVILLE, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – State police say a man was nearly carjacked and robbed this weekend at a public parking lot in the Poconos.
The victim managed to get away, but only after investigators say he was assaulted inside his vehicle and threatened with an airsoft pistol.
It happened in the Giant Food Store parking lot around 8:20 Friday night. The suspect is behind bars, but shoppers say this still makes them nervous.
State police say a 29-year-old man from Tobyhanna was pulling into the parking lot when 34-year-old Travis Koehler of Gilbert asked for help, then tried forcing his way into the victim’s vehicle.
“It’s pretty scary because women come out after they get off work to go shopping, expecting to just get in and get out,” says Jennie Omerza of Brodheadsville.
During a struggle inside the vehicle, troopers say the victim was assaulted and threatened with an airsoft pistol. He was able to run inside Giant for help while Koehler took off on foot.
Police later located Koehler and took him into custody without incident.
“Especially if you’re coming here at nighttime to shop, yeah it’s scary,” says Lilly Miller of Gilbert.
State police responded to this same parking lot two weeks ago, after a suspicious pressure cooker was found underneath a box truck. Investigators determined that pressure cooker was empty.
“You feel like you’re safe here in The United States, but now it’s starting to happen and everyone’s coming in. And a pressure cooker? That’s bad, because you see the damage that stuff can do,” Omerza adds.
Joseph Ned of Saylorsburg says he was shopping here just hours before the assault happened.
He adds, “something like this, certainly, is definitely alarming.”
State police haven’t said if the incident was caught on camera, but signs say the parking lot is under surveillance. Ned explains, “obviously we should always be aware of what’s going on around us.”
Koehler was arraigned Saturday morning, and is due back in court next Friday. He remains behind bars in Monroe County, unable to post $20,000 dollars bail.
A manager inside Giant referred Eyewitness News to the corporate public relations for comment. We reached out to that team, but have not heard back.