BANGOR, Maine — Bangor police took three people into custody from a home at 27 Webster Ave. a little over an hour after a nearby Rite Aid was robbed Monday afternoon for the fourth time in six months.
Bangor police officers and members of Bangor’s special response team surrounded the house and evacuated nearby neighbors and residents at Bangor Efficiency Apartments at 513 Hammond St. before entering the home.
Two men and one woman were taken into custody, with one of the men later arrested. John D. Harmon, 27, of Dover-Foxcroft was charged with Class B felony robbery and transported to Penobscot County Jail.
“My neighbor knocked on my door and told me to look outside,” said Brandon McPhail, who lives in a first floor apartment at Bangor Efficiency. “There were members of the SWAT team out there with big guns, so I shut and locked my door.”
Police units and the special response team were dispatched to the north end of Webster Avenue and the apartment building about 70 minutes after a 4:52 p.m. robbery at the Rite Aid located at the corner of Union Street and Fourteenth Street.
This was the fourth robbery to occur at this Rite Aid location in the last six months and the second in the last 10 days.
The heavily-armed police response came after a gray sedan reportedly used in the robbery was seen in the area of 513 Hammond St. Officers, some wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying machine guns, shut down the northern end of Webster and entered the house, taking three people into custody.
“I can tell you the action at Webster Avenue and 513 Hammond is connected to the robbery,” said Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards Monday evening. “We are currently interviewing people of interest.”
The as-yet unidentified man and woman were still in custody, but hadn’t been charged Monday night.
“I looked out and a guy was pointing at me and waving me out, so I came out and they told me to put my hands on my head and walk backwards toward them,” McPhail said. “They put me on the ground and put handcuffs on me until they got everyone out.”
Police left the apartment around 6:15 p.m. but were still at the Rite Aid, which remained closed for the rest of the evening.
Kim Tozier, a Lowell resident who works in Bangor, was in the Rite Aid when the robbery occurred.
“He just bolted out of the store and I heard them say to lock the doors. I could tell he had pills in his bag because they were shaking,” she said. “He was holding them over his head.”
Russell Street resident Glenice Fitzpatrick saw the male suspect run by her house in a rather unorthodox way.
“He was acting odd. He had a red knit cap on, had his hands up over his head, and was making weird noises, but wasn’t really saying anything,” she said.
Edwards said no one was hurt during the robbery.
“One suspect went into the store demanding drugs. No weapons were mentioned or displayed,” Edwards said.
A Levant resident who preferred not to give her name was also in the store during the robbery.
“I was just getting some grocery items, and I saw a guy running past me, which I thought was peculiar — with medications in his hand — and just as he approached the door, they yelled to lock the door,” she said. “He tried to go out the in door, but it was locked, so he had to go out the other side.”
The woman said she didn’t see the man from the front, but that he was about 6 feet tall, wearing a red cap, dark jacket, jeans and a bandana.
“I came in for some Halloween candy. I think I’ll get my candy at convenience stores now,” she said. “Actually, on my way here, I thought, ‘I’ll run in there real quick on my way home. I hope it doesn’t get robbed while I’m there,’ because it seems to be a common theme. I guess I jinxed myself.”
She’s not the only one feeling jinxed.
“The last time I was here, I needed some milk and soda, so I figured I’d stop at the Rite Aid and there were all these police officers lined up out here,” said Josiah Benjamin of Bangor, referring to the Sept. 29 robbery. “Today I saw not a lot of traffic and lots of police cars and said, ‘Here we go again.’”
Several customers who stopped in to either pick up prescriptions or make purchases immediately asked if the store had been robbed again when they saw the signs on the doors and the police cars outside.
Benjamin said he finds it more an annoyance than a worry, although he did admit feeling a bit more uneasy about being in pharmacies.
“I’m not going to single out this pharmacy. I think this is just bad luck that they got robbed twice in a very short period of time,” he said. “Now when I come into a pharmacy I wonder if I should watch the other customers.”
Regular customer Robert Wylie of Hermon had a slightly different take.
“It makes me think I should use the drive-through more often,” he said.