BENNINGTON — Police are saying that the person who used a gun to hold up a Northside Drive gas station Saturday morning was a juvenile who will be prosecuted in juvenile court.
Police are not releasing the boy’s name or age but said he was arraigned Monday in Bennington family court which is not open to the public.
The boy is accused of using a gun to hold up the Short Stop on Northside Drive at around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. No one was hurt and, because a customer interrupted the alleged robbery attempt, nothing was taken from the store.
The gun was believed to have been taken during a burglary at the Willowbrook apartment complex. Police said the boy confessed to both the burglary and the attempted robbery of the Short Stop.
Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said she couldn’t discuss the case because it was a juvenile case and therefore confidential, but the decision to charge the boy as a juvenile was hers. In a case where a juvenile is charged with a serious crime, Marthage said she considers what resources are available and public safety.
“What I look at when I’m reviewing whether to charge somebody in juvenile or district court, just as a general matter, is whether I believe the need for public safety is going to be better met with the tools and resources available in the juvenile court system than in the district court system. … Working strictly through the Department of Corrections with individuals who are over 18, the resources are pretty limited,” she said.
In a press release, Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette said the boy had been in the store, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and glasses, earlier in the morning.
He picked up a few items and placed them on the counter. The clerk began to ring up the sale and asked the boy for identification.
Doucette said the boy said he couldn’t find his identification and told the clerk he no longer wanted the item, which police didn’t identify, that required proof of age. The boy also said he couldn’t find his money and said he didn’t want any of the other items he brought to the counter before leaving the store.
However, a short time later, the boy came back into the store and said he had found his money. The clerk resumed the checkout process but then the boy removed a gun from his sweatshirt, pointed it at the clerk and demanded the money from the register, Doucette said.
Doucette said the robbery was interrupted when a customer pulled up to the gas pumps in front of the store and the boy ran out.
A Vermont State Police trooper with a canine unit recovered an article of clothing worn by the boy. The canine was then able to track the boy to Willowbrook.
Doucette said his officers conducted a “thorough search” at Willowbrook and went door-to-door in search of the suspect.
After speaking with Willowbrook residents, police determined the gun used in the robbery was the same one from the burglary. With that information, police were able to identify the boy who was charged with the robbery.
Marthage said it was very unusual to see a juvenile in Bennington County charged with an armed robbery but she also said it was unusual to have an armed robbery in the area.
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