Owner tells of armed robbery

NORTHFIELD — A local restaurateur is confident that police will catch the man who robbed her business at gunpoint Monday night.

Kathleen Crochier, owner of the Notch Restaurant on Main Street, had closed up shop at 8 p.m., as she does most Monday nights, and was taking out the trash about an hour later when she was approached by a man wielding a gun.

“I really didn’t know what was going on at first,” she said. “You don’t really think anyone’s going to do something like that to you.”

Though at first she was shocked, Crochier soon felt powerless.

“There’s really not much you can do to be prepared for something like that,” she said. “When you’re looking down the barrel of a gun, you don’t think to do what you’ve learned anyway.”

From the building’s enclosed alleyway, the gunman led Crochier back inside the restaurant, where one of her employees was working, and demanded money. He got an undisclosed amount of cash, and took off without hurting anyone.

“For what he got, it’s not worth the time he’ll spend in jail,” said Crochier. She said she didn’t get a good look at the gunman, who was disguised.

According to state law, someone convicted of an armed robbery while masked faces a five-year minimum state prison sentence for a first offense.

Crochier said there was a suspicious-looking blue or black station wagon in the area at the time, but she can’t say for sure if it was the robber’s getaway car.

“I didn’t think to watch as he left. I was more concerned with securing the place, and calling 911.”

Crochier said she was surprised how promptly police showed up.

“(Northfield Police) Officer John Cowan was here by the time I got off the phone with 911,” she said. “An officer with the Sheriff’s Department was in town, and he was also here within minutes.”

Those officers were aided by state police. Working together, they contained the area, and recovered evidence, according to Northfield’s acting Police Chief Robert Leighton.

Leighton said he could not comment on what that evidence was, nor release specific details of the robbery, as it remains under investigation.

Crochier also did not want to divulge details like the type of gun used or the amount of money taken, or how the robber was masked. She said she was impressed with the efforts of the responding officers.

“The police were very thorough,” said Crochier. “There are stories around town that the police department doesn’t do anything, or that they’re incapable, but they’re simply not true. I can’t say enough about what they’ve done for me.”

She said officers have been stopping by to check in since Monday’s robbery.

Crochier opened the Notch in 2002. Before that, she owned Pizza Etc. in Bernardston.

“We were broken into (at Pizza Etc.), but never had an armed robbery,” she said.

Crochier didn’t open the Notch the day after the robbery, but it was business as usual Wednesday, and she seemed in good spirits.

“We’re being a little more cautious. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Leighton met with the state police detectives Wednesday, as they continue to look into the robbery.

“We’re still going through the evidence and coordinating with other law enforcement agencies,” said Leighton.

“I just hope they catch the man who did this, so it doesn’t happen to someone else,” said Crochier.

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