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Masked armed robberies rare in area

Weapons often implied, but unusual for guns to be shown

GREENFIELD — The culprit in Sunday’s robbery of the Main Street TD Bank branch remains at large following a relatively unusual crime for the area in that a gun was shown.

An image taken from security footage shows the masked subject pointing a pistol across the counter. Greenfield police say the man entered the bank with the pistol in his hand, pointed it at the teller and left quickly with an undisclosed amount of money.

Armed robbery is punishable by “imprisonment in the state prison for any term of years” under Massachusetts law, provided the perpetrator is unmasked and armed with something other than a firearm.

The mask and gun both attach mandatory minimum sentences to the crime.

Armed robbery “while masked or disguised or while having his features artificially distorted,” in the language of the law, carries a minimum sentence of five years in state prison, 10 years for second and subsequent offenses.

Robbery with a firearm of any kind also carries a minimum sentence of five years in state prison, 15 on subsequent offense.

Guns and masks are not uncommon in local robberies, but the gun, if real, is rarely seen.

A search of The Recorder archives found stories describing 18 armed robberies reported in the past two years. In only three of these did the victim report seeing a gun, and of those three, one was a toy.

In January, a disguised man robbed the Notch Restaurant on Main Street in Northfield. In September, Sunderland police said a man was shot multiple times in the face with a BB gun during an attempted robbery at his residence and in August a pizza delivery man told police he was robbed at gunpoint while attempting to deliver a pizza on Barton Road.

Eleven of the remaining incidents involved the threat of a gun, not shown, including the February 2011 robbery of the same TD Bank branch.

In that incident the robber passed a teller a note demanding money and claiming he had a gun. The branch at 324 Main St. was also robbed in September 2011. That incident resulted in a charge of unarmed robbery against one of two suspects, who allegedly proffered a note demanding money without the accompanying threat of a weapon.

In that incident, the robber passed a teller a note demanding money and claiming he had a gun.

Of the remaining three armed robberies, one was at knifepoint and two, in April 2012, involved an unspecified weapon. According to police at the time, the suspect involved implied he had a weapon while robbing two convenience stores in Athol and Orange, but never outright said he had one.

Sgt. Mark Williams of the Greenfield Police Department said Monday police are still looking for the man responsible for Sunday’s robbery, described as a white male, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall, wearing dark clothing and with his head and face obscured by a black ski mask and sunglasses.

Police say the man was armed with what appeared to be a black, semi-automatic pistol.

A Greenfield man reported finding a black handgun on the ground at the corner of Conway and Devens streets Monday afternoon. Williams said the gun turned out to be a plastic toy. Williams said it was unclear if the toy was connected to the robbery, but it did not at first glance appear to be the gun shown in the surveillance images.

Police are also looking for a small, silver or gray Jeep Liberty-sized sport utility vehicle. Williams said a bank security employee suggested a vehicle of that description might be involved based on the security tape.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

Shouldn't the Channel 22 news camera have gotten a shot of the getaway car?

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