Independent readers recognized a man they saw in a video—and called the cops.
The readers were watching a video of a hold-up at a Shell station convenience store on Willow Street. The polite, bearded 57-year-old man shown carrying out the heist (he first held open a door for customers to leave) didn’t bother wearing a mask or otherwise concealing his identity. His face was in full view of a surveillance camera. The man’s relatives saw the video in the Independent and convinced him to turn himself in to police, to whom he confessed.
A day later detectives received a call from a victim of a street robbery that occurred on George and Howe streets a week after that Shell heist. A man had stopped two people on the street and “implied” he had a gun, then robbed them, according to Sgt. Robert Lawlor Jr., head of the police department’s robbery and burglary unit.
“I just saw the video in the Independent. That’s the guy who robbed us,” the caller told detectives, according to Lawlor. Both victims identified the 57-year-old man in the video as their assailant. Police have subsequently charged the man with that hold-up as well, according to Lawlor. Lawlor said the man told police he has struggled with a cocaine addiction for some 20 years.