A spate of violent crime has struck our local communities, at least some of it fueled by the illegal drug trade. This ought to be of great concern both to local police and the region as a whole.
Drugs were clearly the motive of a robbery of the CVS pharmacy at the corner of East Broadway and Crystal Avenue early Monday morning. A man walked into the store just before 3:30 a.m. and pulled a handgun, ordering employees to the pharmacy at the rear of the store. He then demanded narcotics from the pharmacist. The pharmacist complied and the man fled, heading east on Broadway.
Derry and state police responded but were unable to find the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call the Derry Police Department at 432-6111.
In Londonderry, police are investigating a home invasion last week in which one man brandished a pistol.
Three men entered a home at 26 Beacon St. last Thursday night. All were wearing bandannas over their faces and one brandished a handgun. The men demanded to see the homeowner, who was not home at the time. They ransacked the house, took money, a cell phone and car keys, then fled on foot, police said. None of the four people at the home was injured.
“It doesn’t appear to be random; they apparently knew the homeowner,” Lt. Kevin Cavallaro told our reporter. “They took a quantity of cash.”
According to town property records, the home belongs to Julio Otero-Rivera.
In another incident in Londonderry, the brandishing of a handgun prompted a panic in the parking lot of Mack’s Apples.
The incident occurred last Saturday afternoon when one man apparently took another driver’s parking space, according to police.
According to police, Gerald O’Brien, 54, of Derry, said he was about to park his car when Douglas Pawl, 30, of Manchester, drove around him and took the space. O’Brien confronted him and an argument ensued, prompting Paul to display a .22 caliber handgun.
The incident frightened some of the approximately 100 customers, especially when O’Brien started yelling, “Gun, gun, gun,” farm manager Mike Cross told reporter Doug Ireland.
“Some people kind of ducked and covered into the building,” Cross said.
Several people called 911 and six police cruisers quickly responded.
“They jumped out of their cars and surrounded the car (Pawl) was sitting in,” Cross said. “It was like a SWAT team showing up.”
Pawl may have been surprised by the sudden attention, according to Cross. He was petting his dog in the car and waiting for his wife to return from buying apples when police surrounded him, he said.
No one was arrested. Police are investigating the incident and charges may yet be filed, police Lt. Timothy Jones told Ireland.
Pawl should not have been surprised in the interest police took in his behavior. People ought to be able to spend a late summer afternoon at an apple orchard without the fear of becoming entangled in gun violence.
These incidents and others — including a recent string or armed convenience store robberies — are alarming. The uptick in violent and potentially violent behavior merits a strong response from police and the condemnation of the community.