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Belmont man faces several charges after Wellsville gunbattle, car chase Monday drama began with armed robbery, standoff in parking lot outside pharmacy

A Belmont man faces attempted murder and robbery charges after he allegedly held up a Wellsville pharmacy Monday morning and became involved in a gunbattle with police before eventually crashing a van into several police vehicles.

Gene R. Fanton Jr., 52, is accused of robbing the Bolivar Road Rite Aid at gunpoint about 9:25 a.m.

Wellsville police officers arrived on the scene quickly and saw a man fitting the suspect's description getting into a van in the parking lot of a nearby shopping plaza.

The stores were evacuated and a crisis negotiator from the Allegany County Sheriff's Office tried to communicate with Fanton using a public address system, according to Wellsville Police Chief Steven L. Mattison. Fanton did not respond.

About 30 minutes later, Fanton moved into the driver's side of the van and fled the scene, police said. On his flight from the parking lot, Fanton drove at several police officers and then continued behind the plaza businesses, attempting to exit the lot, officers said.

When Fanton found the exit blocked, he turned around and drove back around the stores and rammed police vehicles blocking that exit, according to Wellsville police reports.

Fanton then allegedly fired a gun at police. Police returned fire and struck Fanton's van. Police said Fanton was not hit by the gunfire.

Fanton then drove the van onto Bolivar Road and headed west. He was pursued by police for about a half mile before he crashed into several police cars near the NAPA Auto Parts store at 4246 Bolivar Road in the town of Wellsville, officers said.

Fanton was treated in Jones Memorial Hospital and released.

Besides attempted murder and armed robbery, Fanton also was charged with felony reckless endangerment and grand larceny. Police said additional charges are likely.


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