NEWBURYPORT — Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man who robbed a Storey Avenue gas station at knifepoint Friday night, making off with an undetermined amount of cash after possibly attempting the same crime at a High Street gas station minutes earlier.
The suspect, described by police as stocky, in his 20s with a shaved or bald head and dark skin, ran out of the Shell gas station shortly after 7:15 p.m. and sped down the adjacent Low Street. The suspect was said to have worn a towel over at least part of his head or face while committing the robbery, police added.
City Marshal Thomas Howard said police canvassed the surrounding area and called in Amesbury police’s K-9 unit to assist. But they were unable to locate the suspect despite an extensive search.
According to police, the suspect entered the Shell station, brandished a knife and ordered the male employee to hand over all the cash in the store. The employee complied with the suspect’s demands and was uninjured. Howard said the victim chased after the suspect long enough to see him run down Low Street.
Shortly before the Shell station was robbed, police received word of a similar attempted robbery at Kelly’s Global station on High Street a few minutes earlier. According to Howard, the Global employee had just closed for the night and was leaving the premises when the suspect approached him holding a knife. The suspect ordered the employee to hand over all money, but the employee was able to convince the alleged thief that all money for the day had been placed in a safe.
“It was the same scenario,” Howard said.
Police are investigating the possibility that two different men may have committed the robberies, as descriptions given to police by both victims varied.
“But it appears, at this point, to be one individual,” Howard said.
Brazen armed robberies are rare in Newburyport, according to police, but Howard was adamant yesterday when saying such crimes would not be tolerated.
“These are not victimless crimes; you are putting people in danger. This is not the kind of situation we want in Newburyport,” said Howard, adding that in both cases, the victims did the right thing and didn’t resist.
Responding to the scenes were inspector Michael Sugrue and officers Joshua Tierney, Richard Rocco and Sgt. William Steeves. Sugrue said police are reviewing video surveillance taken from at least one of the crime scenes and may be able to glean more information about the alleged robbery.
Anyone with information regarding the identify of the suspect or the crimes in general are urged to call the Newburyport Police Department at 978-462-4411.