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Family tails Mass. men after Manchester robbery, police pounce at Bedford tolls

July 29. 2013 12:54PM

MANCHESTER — Bail was set at $50,000 cash/surety Monday in Circuit Court-Manchester District Division for a Massachusetts man accused of using a fake gun in an armed robbery — a man police say witnesses followed to the Bedford toll plaza, where he was arrested.


Police said Brian J. Cunneen, 22, of Lowell, demanded the clerk at Crosstown Variety, 77 Bremer St., hand over money from the cash register Sunday morning and threatened to shoot people if she didn’t.


Court documents show the store clerk, Colleen Tierney, told police the robber pointed what looked like a black plastic gun at her and demanded: “Open the register.”


Tierney said she responded: “Are you serious?”


Tierney finally opened the register and took out cash, but the robber’s lunges toward her in an attempt to grab the money were unsuccessful; he finally gave up and left the store.


One witness who was in the store when she saw the robber walk up to the clerk, with his face partially obscured and a gun in his hand, left the store to call 911. Another witness, who entered the store and walked up to the counter as the robber was trying to get money, was told by the clerk: “I’m being robbed, leave the store and call the police.”


Customer James Demers said he was trying to get a look at the robber to see if there really was a gun, but the clerk was insistent. “She said: ‘Just leave and call the police’,” said Demers.


So he did. He was on the phone with 911 when the robber came out of the store, uncovered his face and sprinted for a waiting car. It took off east on Bremer Street and so did Demers, with his 18-year-old daughter at the wheel.


“I said I could stay on the phone,” said Demers. And that’s what he did, relaying information on the vehicle and the route, south on Interstate 293, headed toward the Everett Turnpike. As for his daughter: “She was doing OK.”


Demers told police he estimated the getaway car traveled at speeds up to 100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic, with the Demers’ car following. He said his daughter was “able to speed without getting a ticket.”


The Massachusetts vehicle slowed and stopped at one of the cash toll booths at the Bedford plaza, possibly even paying the toll. Manchester and New Hampshire State Police took it from there, making the stop and the arrests.


Police said the fake gun was found after a search warrant was obtained for the getaway car. Cunneen and the driver, John M. Hickey, 27, who listed the same Lowell address of 644 Princeton Blvd. as Cunneen, were arrested.


In addition to Cunneen and Hickey, who was charged with criminal liability to armed robbery, there were two other people in the vehicle: 22-year-old Taylor Russell, also from Massachusetts, and a 6-year-old girl. Russell was not charged in connection with the robbery.


In Circuit Court Monday afternoon, bail for Hickey was set at $10,000 cash/surety. Probable cause hearings for both men were set for Aug. 12.


Monday evening, Demers downplayed his part in helping police capture the accused robber and his accomplice, saying: “It wasn’t anything anybody wouldn’t have done.”

Crime Bedford Manchester

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