MANCHESTER — After his pawn shop was robbed of two laptops a week ago, Luke Nelson decided he was going to keep a gun under the counter. Little did he know how soon he would need it.
On Wednesday about 3:15 p.m., a man walked into Nelson's Good Still Pawn Shop, pointed a gun in his face and muttered something Nelson couldn't understand. He distracted the man by calling out to a coworker.
"I pulled out my gun from under the counter, pointed it at him, and told him to get on the ground or I was going to shoot him," Nelson said. "That's when he took off out of the store."
Nelson and two associates chased him six blocks from the 126 Kelley St. store to a yard on Rimmon Street, where they waited for police.
"He didn't get a dime," said Nelson, a Manchester resident.
Officer Walter Feldhouse was directed by witnesses to 290 Dubuque St., where the man had last been seen. As Feldhouse approached the home, he spotted the man and chased him over a fence and into a neighboring yard outside 322 Rimmon St.
"They needed to Taser the guy to bring him down," said Nelson, who was outside the home as the man was taken into custody. "He got up at first, then they brought him down."
Manchester police said the suspect at first was "uncooperative" and would not give his identity. Later, however, the man told them his name is Jonathan Rodriguez, 20, and that he had no current address.
He is charged with four counts of armed robbery, criminal threatening, simple assault, resisting arres, first degree assault and falsifying physical evidence, for allegedly ditching the gun.
Investigators say they developed information linking Rodriguez to three others similar armed robberies, all occurring on the West Side: robberies on July 26 and again on July 27 of Crosstown Variety ,and on Aug. 27 at Domino's Pizza on Amory Street.
All three robberies involved a gun and in the Domino incident, the robber hit the clerk in the head with it, police said.
Lt. Maureen Tessier said Thursday morning that police are still looking for the weapon. Although they had recovered some pieces of clothing and a knife they believed Rodriguez discarded in flight.
"It's scary to know this was going on outside my home, in the middle of the day," said Chris Eaton, who lives in an apartment directly above the Good Still Pawn Shop. "Luke's a good guy, and he runs a good business here. I don't know what's happening with this city. This used to be a good neighborhood."
Nelson, who has owned the Good Still Pawn Shop for three years, said he has been robbed three times before, but never at gunpoint.
"Manchester is getting bad; people are getting desperate and doing desperate things," said Nelson. "That's why I brought my gun in. I don't know what he would have done if I didn't have it, but God was with us today. I have security cameras, locks, everything, but none of it does any good when someone has a gun pointed at you."
Rodriguez was arraigned Thursday in 9th Circuit Court, Manchester District Division, where he could enter no plea to seven felony charges: four of robbery and one each of criminal threatening, first-degree assault and falsifying physical evidence. A probable cause hearing was set for Sept. 19.
He pleaded innocent to misdemeanor charges of simple assault and resisting arrest and trial was set for Oct. 6. .
Police prosecutor Carrissa Pelletier sought bail of $75,000 cash/surety, noting that Rodriguez was only identified by his fingerprints through AFIS - Automated Fingerprint Identification System - which also showed he is wanted for robbery in Michigan. She also sought conditions barring contact with the robbery victims and the people who sought to stop the robber and barring him from all of the robbery locations on Kelley, Amory and Rimmon streets. She also requested he be required to sign a waiver of extradition if he is released on bail.
Rodriguez had no comment on the bail amount other than to say, through an interpreter: "I am not going to pay." He insisted he has no address, although he finally provided an address where he said mail could be sent to him.