Suspect in Brattleboro gas station robbery appears in court

Thursday May 2, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- A man accused of snatching money out of the till of a gas station on Canal Street is being held without bail following his arraignment on Wednesday.

On the night of April 29, Brattleboro police responded to the Shell gas station for a report of a robbery that resulted in a $160 loss of cash. No weapons were used or displayed.

The next day, after images of the alleged robber were distributed to the media, Robert P. Johnston, 27, of Rutland, was identified and arrested.

"As a result of these images being disseminated to the community, the Brattleboro Police Department started receiving tips on a possible identification of the robber," stated a press release from the Brattleboro Police Department.

The store clerk, who witnessed the robbery, told police that the suspect "had walked around the store and brought merchandise to the counter to be cashed out."

He handed the clerk a $5 bill and when she opened the cash register, the male reached over the counter and grabbed $10 and $20 bills from inside the drawer, stated the affidavit.

The store clerk also told police that Johnston apologized as he was taking the money and ran out of the store.

Police were able to secure video surveillance from the store, which confirmed what the store clerk told officers.

Johnston was wearing a black Monster energy drink sweat shirt and a Fox Racing baseball hat and he had a tattoo "of a figure, which appears to be holding an ax on his right forearm."

Det. Lt. Carrier told Det. Jonathan Griffus that he received information to identify Johnston through the Vermont Criminal Information Center. When Griffus ran a name inquiry through Brattleboro Dispatch, he learned that Johnston had an active arrest warrant out of Rutland.

Griffus also received information that revealed Johnston had recently been residing at America's Best Inn in Brattleboro.

Along with another officer, Griffus located Johnston at the inn. He was getting out of a Chevrolet truck with two other white males.

"I told Johnston to stop where he was, I needed to speak with him, Johnston complied and I placed him into custody," Griffus' report in the affidavit said.

Griffus saw the Monster sweat shirt inside the truck and spoke with one of the men Johnston was with, who gave Griffus permission to go into the truck and take the sweatshirt. Both men told Griffus the sweat shirt did not belong to them.

"Johnston stated he came to Brattleboro sometime on April 27 from Rutland. He was a heroin addict and had ties to Brattleboro through previous attempts to be treated for his addiction. Johnston stated he had been staying at (one of the males') residences in Dover and on April 29 ... borrowed (the males') truck and came to Brattleboro. Johnston stated he hung around the town and because of his drug addiction, decided to steal the money from the Shell station to be able to buy heroin," stated the affidavit.

He told the police that he pretended to buy merchandise in the Shell station and stole the cash from the drawer and ran.

"Johnston stated he ran up the road towards Ledgewood Heights, circling back to Elliot Street. Johnston stated he stole $150 from the cash register, using $100 to purchase heroin and the rest at a gas station on the rotary in Brattleboro to buy beer, gas and cigarettes," according to the affidavit.

Johnston confirmed that the hat and sweat shirt were the same items from the surveillance camera.

Johnston's criminal history check showed six felony convictions, which included larceny from a person and uttering forged instruments.

He is being held at the Southern State Correctional Facility.

"The Brattleboro Police Department would like to thank all members of the community for their assistance in the apprehension of this suspect," a press release said.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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