Adams Convenience clerk Taha Elseaidy paid little notice to the two men who walked into the store around 3 on Sunday afternoon.
They seemed “normal,” he reasoned.
But then one of them walked up to the cash register clutching a broken bottle and demanding money. He did not look threatening, so Elseaidy, who was manning the cash register, thought it was a prank.
“I thought he was joking,’’ Elseaidy recalled. “But then he tapped his hand on the counter and pointed to the cash register and said: ‘Give me all the money.’”
The men fled with $500, but by evening their robbery spree was over, police said.
Police said the pair were involved in at least two robberies Sunday, including the one at the Adams Convenience store.
On Monday Richard Puopolo, 27, of the North End, and Carlos Venable, a 43 -year-old homeless man, were arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court on robbery charges.
Authorities said the first robbery began when the men entered a coffee shop at 2 Atlantic Ave. at about 7:10 a.m. When a barista asked if she could help them, Puopolo allegedly told her he was robbing the store and demanded the money from the registers. The barista complied and Puopolo allegedly took the cash before handing two $5 bills back, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case.
“I’m so sorry,” he allegedly said before fleeing with his associate. “This is for you guys.”
Around 3 p.m., the two men entered Adams Convenience store on Hanover Street, with Puopolo allegedly brandishing a broken bottle while Venable stood behind him.
“This is no joke,” Puopolo allegedly said . “This is a robbery. We are broke and we need the money.”
Elseaidy, a student working as a clerk, said he peeled out a total of $500 from the register and gave it to the robbers, who fled on foot, towards Faneuil Hall.
Before they fled, one of them tossed him a $20 bill and said “This is for you.”
“They were desperate,’’ Elseaidy said.
Their spree ended around 8:30 p.m., after Boston Police released video surveillance images showing the two alleged robbers. Authorities said the two men were suspected of involvement in five robberies, though Puopolo and Venable were only charged in two of the incidents.
Puopolo called police to surrender. When detectives arrived at his North End home, he had a vial of Xylocaine, an anesthetic for which he had no prescription, according to the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
About two hours later, officers on patrol in Chinatown spotted Venable and recognized him as resembling one of the men in the surveillance image. He agreed to be questioned by police, and acknowledged that he was one of the men in the image. But he denied being involved in any robberies.
“I was just standing outside and did not do anything,” sid Venable, according to court records.
In court on Monday, Judge Annette Forde ordered Venable held on $20,000 bail on armed robbery charge. His open bail on an earlier assault case was revoked.
Puopolo was held on $1,000 bail on charges of armed robbery, unarmed robbery, and unlawful possession of a Class E substance. His next court date is Jan. 22.
Meghan Irons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follower on Twitter at MeghanIrons.