Plainclothes RNC officer says he attempted to arrest the armed robber, alleged to be Andrew Parsons, when he realized what was about to happen
A plainclothes RNC officer had already been tracking a silver Ford Fusion for a few hours on the evening of Feb. 22 when he saw the vehicle pull into the parking lot of a bar in Kelligrews.
The officer, assigned to do surveillance on the car as part of an investigation into break-ins in the C.B.S. area, had followed it from a home to a number of other places around C.B.S., but wasn't sure of the identities of the people inside.
The car stopped in the bar parking lot around 9 p.m. and a man got out, the hood of his white sweatshirt pulled tight around his face. When the police officer saw the man head toward the nearby Red Bridge Variety store, he realized what was about to happen.
"I made the assumption an armed robbery may be occurring and I got out with the intention of trying to make an arrest," the RNC officer explained on the witness stand in provincial court Monday.
Before he could reach the store, however, the man in the hoodie ran out.
"I initiated a full pursuit," the officer told the court, saying he chased the man through the backyard of a house. In the glow of the residence's patio light, the police officer had gotten a good look at the suspect's face, he testified. He said he later determined, through the RNC's mugshot system, that it was Andrew Parsons.
Parsons, 28, has pleaded not guilty to robbery, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, carrying a concealed weapon, uttering threats, wearing a disguise with the intention to commit a crime and breaching a court order in connection with the convenience store robbery.
The Red Bridge Variety clerk also testified as Parsons' trial got underway Monday, telling the court she had been alone in the store when a man in a white hoodie came in with his face covered, armed with a large knife and demanding money.
"He said if I pushed the panic button I was dead," the young woman told the court.
Surveillance video played in the courtroom by prosecutor Jacqueline MacMillan showed a man standing on his toes to lean over the counter and take what appeared to be lottery scratch tickets, dropping some as he left with them and an armful of cash.
The clerk said the robber had taken all the bills in her cash drawer, though she wasn't sure of the amount.
The RNC's K9 unit was called to the scene after the robber ran into a wooded area, and a police dog tracked him from there to a North Atlantic gas station on the C.B.S. Highway. Surveillance video from that store showed a man in a white hoodie waiting in line at the cash, where he reportedly asked the store manager to call him a cab. The manager identified the man as Parsons, saying he had recognized him from high school.
McMillan also played video taken from a home security camera around the same time, showing what looked like the same man in the hoodie walking through a backyard. The yard was on the path tracked by the police dog, the court heard.
Police were unable to arrest the suspect that night, but the next day issued a public appeal for help in locating Parsons, saying he was wanted as one of three men believed responsible for the robbery.
Two nights later, the RNC received an anonymous call saying Parsons was at an address in C.B.S. and wanted to turn himself in. He was arrested at the home without incident.
Parsons' trial continues Tuesday in St. John's before Judge James Walsh.