PORT DEPOSIT — Investigators have arrested one of two men who allegedly maced the 83-year-old owner of a Port Deposit-area convenience store three times and punched him in the back while robbing the business earlier this week, according to Cecil County District Court records.
One of the suspects also allegedly pointed a handgun two times at the owner during the holdup, court records show.
The owner was in the process of opening Craigtown Market for business at about 5:45 a.m. Wednesday when the two suspects — dressed in black, their heads and faces covered with black nylon stockings — entered the store in the 700 block of Craigtown Road and committed the armed robbery, police reported.
Store surveillance cameras videotaped the holdup and the vehicle used by the bandits, police said. That footage helped Cecil County Sheriff’s Office investigators identify one of the suspects — John Brian Sherman Collins Jr., 27, of Perryville, police added.
CCSO detectives arrested Collins on Thursday and charged him with six offenses, including armed robbery, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and theft of more than $100 and less than $1,500, according to court records.
Collins, who is scheduled for a July 1 preliminary hearing, remained in the Cecil County Detention Center over the weekend without bond, court records show.
The owner was behind the checkout counter when the suspects entered the store and approached him, according to court records, which identify the alleged robbers only as Suspect 1 and Suspect 2. Lt. Michael Holmes, a CCSO spokesman, identified Collins as Suspect 1.
Collins, who was holding several white cable ties in his hand, pepper-sprayed the owner while the other suspect walked to the back door, opened it and checked to see if anyone was behind the store, police said. Then Collins walked behind the checkout counter and maced the owner again, police added.
“The victim attempted to run to the rear exit, but was stopped by Suspect 2, who raises an arm and points what appears to be a gun at the victim. The victim immediately turns around and is confronted by (Collins). (Collins) strikes the victim in the right kidney region, before the victim opens the register draw,” the charging document outlines.
Collins took approximately $745 from the the cash drawer and, once again, pepper-sprayed the owner while Suspect 2 continued to brandish what appeared to be a handgun, police said. The suspects fled out the rear door and ran into the woods directly behind the market moments later, after noticing a vehicle pulling into the store’s front parking lot, police added.
During the on-scene investigation, a witness reported seeing a suspicious vehicle parked in a driveway parallel to the store at the time of the armed robbery, according to court records, which indicate that the person described the vehicle as a white service truck with a ladder rack and an unknown apparatus sticking out the roofline.
Surveillance video shows a truck matching that description driving past the market on Perrylawn Drive (Route 275) at about 5:15 a.m., roughly 30 minutes before the armed robbery, police reported. It then shows that same truck making a U-turn on Perrylawn Drive and then turning onto Craigtown Road, according to police.
(Craigtown Market is at the corner of Craigtown Road and Perrylawn Drive.)
Also helping investigators, CCSO detectives learned that Perryville Police Department officers had handled a complaint from an employee at the nearby Pilot Travel Center at about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, some four hours before the Craigtown Market armed robbery, court records show.
“The clerk advised that a subject known to her as John Collins Jr. entered the store with an unknown black male. Collins asked the clerk if they sold pepper spray,” according to the charging document.
After learning that the store did not sell mace, Collins reportedly bought a pack of cable ties, before he and his companion left in a vehicle that the store clerk described as a “Chevrolet regular cab Utility boy truck with a blue ladder rack and some type of machine sticking out above the roof,” court documents show.
CCSO Det. Michael O’Donnell, lead investigator, conducted computer checks and found Collins’ Perryville address in the database, police reported.
“Detective O’Donnell learned that John Collins Jr. frequently operates (a company) service truck, which matches the previous descriptions provided of the suspect vehicle. Furthermore, it was noted that John Collins Jr. is currently in possession of the service truck,” the detectives reports in his written statement of probable cause.
Holmes told the Cecil Whig that the investigation is continuing to identify the second suspect in the Craigtown Market armed robbery.