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Elderly Malden customer thwarts robbery

Posted by Alix Roy  February 17, 2010 04:11 AM

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When Michael McInnis allegedly barged into a Malden convenience store around 1 a.m. Thursday morning and demanded cash from the register, he never expected a 75-year-old customer to stand in his way.

But an elderly woman, who firmly declined to give her name, gave him a piece of her mind, grabbing a nearby price scanner and beating him with it until he fled from the store, according to surveillance video of the scene.

“She frequented the store quite often, she was friendly with the clerk,” said Malden Police Lieutenant Marc Gatcomb. “I think she took it personal when he tried to move in and possibly assault her friend  and try to rob the place.”

What the woman didn't know was that the 6-foot-tall man she assaulted was a career criminal who threatened to kill police officers during an arrest last fall.

According to a report filed by Malden Police Sergeant Robert Dietz on Nov. 13, McInnis was intoxicated and refused to cooperate with police after his girlfriend asked that he be removed from her Cross Street home.

 “He threatened to kill me and my family. He was begging me to take off my badge and gun to fight him,” Dietz wrote in the report.

McInnis was left in a holding cell where police hoped he would calm down. Instead, he began smashing his head against the plexiglass window and threatened to kill himself, Malden Police Lieutenant Glenn Cronin wrote in a report.

Although his most recent address is in Saugus, McInnis has been arraigned 13 times over the past 10 years at Malden District Court on charges ranging from robbery to disturbing the peace. He served 60 days in the Middlesex Jail in Cambridge for traffic violations committed last April, according to court records.

His notoriety among law enforcement officers in the area allowed police to easily identify him after viewing the surveillance camera at 7-11 on Salem Street where Thursday's robbery took place, Gatcomb said. McInnis, now 34, was charged with unarmed robbery for stealing around $100 from the register.

In the store's surveillance video, the woman can be seen chatting to the clerk. As soon as McInnis approaches the register, the woman “sprung into action,” Gatcomb said, swinging the plastic scanner across the counter and then chasing McInnis out of the store.

“It was pretty incredible,” Gatcomb admitted.

Kishmore Benmatsa, who was working the counter at the time of the robbery, told police he had seen McInnis in the store before and positively identified his picture, police reports state.

Benmatsa did not return a call seeking comment.

McInnis is currently being held at Middlesex Jail after failing to post $1,500 bail. Malden District Court Judge Joseph Jennings cited McInnis's criminal record and failure to show up for prior court dates in setting the bail amount. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on March 3.

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