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Prominent pastor says he was robbed, injured at knifepoint
By: Maria Miller
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A prominent religious and political figure in Cambria County said he was robbed at knifepoint late last week. Monsignor Raymond Balta said he was targeted and injured by a man in a ski mask and wielding a butcher knife.
Balta said it was about 6:30 p.m. Friday when he got a knock on the door of his rectory at St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church, in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
"I opened the door and he had a ski mask on and a butcher knife in his hand and said, 'Give me all your money,'" Balta said.
Without thinking Balta reached into his pocket and gave the man money, but he said it didn't end there.
"When you give them all you have, you expect them to run away, but when he didn't and he said, 'No, I want all of it,' I didn't really know what that meant," Balta said. "I didn't have any more to give him, and Ididn't want to be in a position where I was going to be debating."
Balta said he then did what he felt was necessary to get the thief to leave, pushing him back onto the sidewalk where the two got into a struggle.
"He came toward me and then I went toward him and we sort of had a little scuffle that went out onto the sidewalk, and he went down Power Street," Balta said.
With the thief running away and blood covering the sidewalk, Balta said he realized he was hurt.
His hand is now bandaged after requiring several stitches for a gash caused by the knife during the struggle.
Balta said it's not uncommon for people in need to stop by and ask for money, but he said this was obviously a man with much worse intentions, and it is an incident that hurts others who need the help.
"I said of all of the people that come here, I try to help everybody that I can because I know especially with this winter, there are a lot of people having difficult times," Balta said. "I try to help as many people as I can, and then to come with a butcher knife and a ski mask."
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Johnstown Police Department.