East Hampton Town Police on Monday charged a Springs teenager with the robbery of Springs Wines and Liquors on Saturday afternoon.
Police say that John X. Tracy III, 19, entered the business at 839 Springs-Fireplace Road at 4:53 p.m. and demanded money from the clerk, stating that he had a gun. He never displayed a weapon but kept his hand in his vest pocket to suggest that he had one, Det. Sgt. Gurney said.
After taking $1,500 in cash from the register, the suspect fled on foot along Fort Pond Boulevard and toward Three Mile Harbor Road, according to court records and the police report. The clerk was not injured.
Through witness descriptions and video surveillance footage, Mr. Tracy became a suspect, police said. The investigation led to his arrest on Monday at 9:54 a.m., after police found Mr. Tracy driving a 2004 gray Dodge Ram pickup truck on Norfolk Drive in Springs.
He was charged with robbery in the first degree, a felony, and appeared for arraignment in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Tuesday before Justice Catherine A. Cahill. He was released on $10,000 cash bail.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Archer asked for bail to be set at $50,000 cash or $150,000 bond, but John O’Brien, Mr. Tracy’s attorney, said that the family would pay $10,000 cash and Justice Cahill agreed.
The 19-year-old, who has long, sandy-brown hair, was wearing blue sweatpants and a black T-shirt when he appeared in court. He is currently unemployed and had completed one semester at Vermont College after graduating from East Hampton High School in 2012.
In an oral admission to police on Monday, he said he was intoxicated when he robbed the liquor store, according to court records.
“This is about Saturday, just so you know, I didn’t have a gun,” he said. “That was the craziest thing I have ever done. I was drunk.”
A grand jury indictment is expected. According to Mr. Archer, Mr. Tracy could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of first-degree robbery. The first-degree robbery charge—armed robbery—apparently stems from the teenager claiming to have a firearm, and gesturing as such, though no weapon had been recovered.
Trish Franey, the owner of Springs Wines and Liquors, said on Monday that she was shocked to learn that one of her employees was robbed at what at least seemed to be gunpoint. “It completely blew me away—I am so thankful that none of my employees were hurt,” she said. “It was really scary for this community, since we don’t see things like that.”
She said that only one employee was working at the time when the suspect came in, and the surveillance video caught it all on tape.
“It was essential to solving the case,” she said of the video. “You could see him outside the store window, pacing back and forth, waiting for the clerk to be alone. He was in the store not long at all, about one or two minutes, and met the clerk at the front of the store and walked to the register. I don’t know what he said … but in the video you can see his hand moving in front of the register.”
Ms. Franey said her employees had never had training about what to do in such a situation, but she said she’s looking into it now.
“The clerk did everything right by giving him all the money,” she said. “I have been in this business for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything remotely close to this. I have to thank the community for all their love and support during this really hard time.”