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Police seek two in gas station holdup

Suspects in Tuesday night Greenfield robbery also believed responsible for similar crime in Northampton

GREENFIELD — Police are searching for suspects in the robberies of convenience stores in Greenfield and Northampton, which they believe may be connected.

Police were called to the Circle K gas station on the Mohawk Trail at about 11:30 p.m., where two masked men reportedly demanded cash and cigarettes before leaving the store on foot.

No weapon was shown in the robbery, but police believe one of the suspects may have had a gun.

The clerk on duty told police that she saw one of the robbers holding a silver-colored item, protruding from his pocket, said Detective Lt. Daniel McCarthy.

Under state law, armed robbery charges can be issued even if no weapon was shown.

“It’s based on the mindset of the clerk,” said McCarthy. If the victim of a robbery had reason to believe a robber had a weapon, police can charge a suspect with armed robbery.

Armed robbery carries a maximum penalty of life in state prison. The use of a mask adds minimum sentences of five years for a first offense, and 10 years for subsequent armed and masked robberies.

Greenfield Police believe the two suspects may have headed south from Circle K to rob another store.

“We feel there may be some connection with an unarmed robbery at Cumberland Farms in Northampton,” said McCarthy.

About an hour after the gas station was robbed, Northampton police were called to the King Street store for a report of a similar robbery.

McCarthy said descriptions of the suspects in both robberies were similar.

The suspects are described as slender, wearing black jackets, one in blue jeans, the other in black jeans, according to McCarthy.

Given the distance between the incidents, McCarthy said it is more than likely that the two had a getaway car.

Police dogs tracked the suspects from the Circle K behind the Family Dollar store and across Colrain Road, where the dogs lost the scent.

Greenfield and Northampton police are working together to investigate the robberies.

McCarthy said the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force was not involved as of Wednesday afternoon, but that the team could be brought in later if need be.

Greenfield has seen several armed robberies in the past year, and Tuesday’s hold-up was the fifth convenience store robbery in as many weeks.

A Bernardston man has been charged with three of those recent robberies.

Dylan Wickline, 18, of 192 Brattleboro Road, was arrested Dec. 5 after the gunpoint robbery of Valley Mart on Mill Street. He was also charged in the Nov. 12 robbery of that same store, as well as the Nov. 15 robbery of JC’s Market on Conway Street.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. also called Wickline a “strong suspect” in the Nov. 19 robbery of the Main Street Cumberland Farms. Though the suspect in the other three robberies acted alone, the Cumberland’s clerk reported a second suspect. The incident is still under investigation.

A black handgun was displayed in all four robberies, and suspects in all four were described as thin, hooded and masked white men.

The man who went on a bank-robbing spree earlier this year was sentenced last week to state prison after he pleaded guilty to the crimes.

Richard C. May, 39, and homeless, admitted to the Feb. 17 and March 3 robberies of TD Bank on Main Street, and the March 13 hold-up of the 277 Federal St. branch of Greenfield Cooperative Bank. He was sentenced on Dec. 12 to 9 to 10 years in Cedar Junction state prison in Walpole, followed by four years of probation.

In June, police arrested Gregory Collison, 22, of Acton, and charged him with the knifepoint robbery of Zemi, a downtown boutique.

In March, police arrested Nathan Rogers, of Northfield, on armed robbery charges, after finding him outside Calls Corner store, with a pellet gun and a mask in the vehicle. He subsequently admitted to robbing the Hess gas station and Main Street Cumberland Farms that same week, according to McCarthy. The lieutenant was confident that Rogers intended to rob Calls Corner when he was apprehended.

Calls Corner reported a robbery in May, when a masked man entered the store, a gun sticking out from his pocket, and demanded cash, which he was given.

Anyone with information on the suspects may call Greenfield Police at (413) 773-5411.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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