Eagle-Tribune website viewers help police identify suspects
LAWRENCE, Sep 30, 2012 (The Eagle-Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Police are crediting a security camera video of an armed robbery of a store clerk posted on The Eagle-Tribune website last month with helping to identify two New Hampshire men as suspects in the crime.
Two anonymous citizens who viewed the video footage contacted Lawrence police detectives, leading to arrest warrants being filed yesterday against two Nashua, N.H., men for the July 31 robbery of City Mart at 576 Haverhill St.
After contacting Nashua Police yesterday to request assistance in searching for the two suspects, Detective William Colantuoni learned that Jody Burtsell, 43, and Jered Hayes, 23, are already being held at the Hillsborough County Jail in Manchester, N.H., on unrelated criminal charges.
Police are working with Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office to have the two men extradited back to Massachusetts to face charges for the robbery and assault of store owner Nazir Shaikh, who disarmed one of his attackers of a black semi-automatic handgun. Police later determined the weapon to be a BB gun.
The two intruders who overpowered Shaikh left the broken weapon behind, but made off with about $300 to $400 in cash. The video showed a fierce-looking struggle between the store owner and his assailants, but he wasn't injured in the scuffle.
Shaikh told detectives at the time that he recognized both men as customers who have frequented his store before. After the anonymous tipsters named the suspects, Shaikh positively identified them men who robbed him from photo arrays prepared by Lawrence detectives.
"Here's a classic case that shows how vi
deo cameras play a key role in solving crimes -- whether a burglary, a robbery or a violent offense," Chief John Romero said in an interview last night.
"This is an era where video cameras are an important tool for law enforcement. A good video, combined with police working with the news media can be a real asset. In this case, people who viewed the video footage of the robbery on The Eagle-Tribune website contacted police with valuable tips. We were able to get positive identification of the suspects from the victim," he said.
The suspect who police have identified as Burtsell, is the suspect seen in the video who leaped over the counter, armed with the black handgun and attacked Shaikh. He was wearing dark glasses and a fisherman's hat.
Suspect Hayes was easier to identify, since he made no attempt to disguise himself in front of the security camera, according to police.
Burtsell and Hayes are well known to New Hampshire lawmen and have been linked to several robberies in that state.
Toward the end of the video, when the robbery suspects bolted from behind the counter, Shaikh grabbed a metal curtain rod he keeps at the store to protect himself and tried to hit one of the fleeing men.
"If it weren't for the video and The Eagle-Tribune posting it on its website, I'm not sure we'd be able to solve this crime. The key here was the video and the police working with the news media," Romero said.
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