By Dave Rogers Staff Writer
Newburyport Daily News
---- — NEWBURYPORT — A Salisbury man with a history of robbing gas stations will remain behind bars after being accused of robbing the Shell gas station on Storey Avenue at knife-point last week.
Christopher Lee Watkins, 27, of 164 Bridge Road, left, was arraigned yesterday at Newburyport District Court on one count of armed robbery while masked after his arrest Friday on Water Street. He was held pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Tuesday.
Police had issued a warrant for his arrest based on evidence collected at the scene, follow-up interviews and a check of the suspect’s Facebook page, where he goes by the name “Swisstopher Watkins” and he stated in a post, “They won’t get me again.”
Judge Peter Doyle denied bail to Watkins, who was sentenced to five years at Cedar Junction prison in Walpole in 2005 after being convicted of robbing the Seacoast Mobil station on Storey Avenue.
Last week, according to police, Watkins 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 Watkins’ demands and was uninjured. Police said the victim chased after Watkins long enough to see him run down Low Street.
According to the report of Inspector Matthew Simons, Watkins entered the station with a white towel over his head and wearing a red sweatshirt, jeans and white sneakers. He then came around the counter and took money out of the register. Police declined to reveal how much money was stolen.
In the last year Watkins had worked at Michael’s Harborside and most recently at Caldwell’s Corner gas station at the bottom of Kent Street. He has been unemployed since the gas station closed roughly three weeks ago, according to Simons.
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 police, 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 would-be thief that all money for the day had been placed in a safe.
Police are still looking into the possibility that Watkins may have been involved in an attempted armed robbery at the Global gas station on High Street.