PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol walked into a car dealership with a bucket containing $39,000 then threatened to blow up the place and pulled a gun while claiming a worker shorted him some cash, police said.
Perry Semelsberger, 53, of Patton remained in the Blair County Prison on Thursday on charges including terroristic threats and reckless endangerment. He also was charged with indecent assault because he allegedly pushed a wad of $100 bills into the cleavage of a female employee during the Tuesday night disturbance at Courtesy Motor Sales in Altoona, about 85 miles east of Pittsburgh.
According to police, Semelsberger went to the dealership with piles of cash in a blue bucket and asked to buy a vehicle.
Semelsberger “was acting very strange and appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol” when he picked up a plastic bin of Legos in a waiting room and dumped it out, a criminal complaint said. Semelsberger poured his money into the Lego bin before he “lifted it above himself and dumped the money on his head,” police wrote.
Semelsberger then started walking around and giving money to customers and employees, including the woman who had money stuffed into her dress, police said.
Semelsberger gave the sales manager money for the purchase, then while the man was counting it shouted, “Don’t be shorting me or I’ll light a fire under your (expletive).” Semelsberger then pulled out a loaded .380-caliber handgun and made other threats including saying he would “blow this place up” and “torch this place,” police said.
Online court records don’t list an attorney for Semelsberger. A woman who answered his home phone Thursday told The Associated Press that Semelsberger was “overly medicated” on Zoloft, a medicine used to treat depression, anxiety and panic attacks. She declined to give her name or identify a defense attorney.
The U.S. Food and Drug administration has found Zoloft can, in rare instances, produce “manic episodes” including “greatly increased energy,” ”reckless behavior,” ”unusually grand ideas,” and “excessive happiness or irritability.”
A sales manager with the dealership declined comment.
Police Chief Timothy Mercer said he didn’t have any specific information about Semelsberger’s medical or mental state at the time. “But he was definitely not acting normal,” Mercer said.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.