AUBURN — A teen who police said robbed a convenience store clerk at knife-point in July was charged this week.
An Androscoggin County grand jury handed up an indictment against Ali Abdi Mohamed, 18, of 135 Bartlett St., Lewiston, on one count of robbery, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Police said a man fitting Mohamed’s description entered a Big Apple store on Main Street on July 9 at about 12:23 a.m. and approached the clerk, who began to ring up the sale of a drink that the man had asked to be held at the counter during an earlier visit to the store.
When the register drawer was open, the man extended an arm in the clerk’s direction while holding a knife that he pointed at the clerk. The man grabbed cash from the drawer and fled the store on foot, police said in an affidavit filed in court.
One of the police officers (including Lewiston police) who responded to the store encountered Mohamed who was walking by the footbridge that connects Bonney Park to Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston. The officer searched Mohamed, who wore a different shirt from the one described as having been worn by the robber. No knife was found on him, according to the affidavit.
Mohamed told the officer he’d seen a male wearing a black hoodie running down the Riverwalk toward Court Street. Although a warrant had been issued for Mohamed’s arrest, that information wasn’t relayed to the officer, so he let Mohamed go.
A knife with an orange handle and a $5 bill were found in the Riverwalk area, close to the footbridge at Bonney Park, police said. A police dog was deployed to help track the robber. One officer compared a mug shot of Mohamed to the robber in surveillance video footage from the store. That officer believed Mohamed was the Big Apple robber, who fled with $73.22.
A day later, police visited Mohamed’s family’s apartment in Lewiston. They found Mohamed there and arrested him on a warrant.
When interviewed at the police station, Mohamed repeated his story from a day earlier. He denied he was the person shown in the surveillance video. Police photographed his shoes which they believed to be the same as those shown in the surveillance footage.
While Mohamed was being processed at Androscoggin County Jail, police seized his shoes. They swabbed the shoes for DNA and photographed them before bagging them as evidence.
When Mohamed was issued a summons, he was told he could speak with police at any time. Shortly afterward, he asked to talk to police. Two officers questioned him in the visitor’s room at the jail. Mohamed told them, “You guys are right,” and, “I did do it.” He told them, “I really don’t know” why he robbed the store. He said he hadn’t intended to hurt anyone.
He told police he “scoped the place out” several times before robbing it. He had asked the clerk to hold a blue-colored drink for him. He said he had used a knife with a red-orange handle during the robbery, according to the affidavit.
He said he ditched the knife, drink and black hoodie before he was stopped by police on the footbridge. He told the officers he had planned to leave the state, was working construction for “straight cash,” needed food and was homeless. He said he had used marijuana around the time of the robbery. He handed over the stolen cash to someone else after the robbery, he said. He claimed the total cash stolen was $155. He told police his mother could repay the stolen money “to make it right.”
Mohamed is scheduled to be arraigned in 8th District Court in Lewiston today on the charge.
He is being held at Androscoggin County Jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bail. He is prohibited from having contact with the clerk and from entering the store.
Ali Abdi Mohamed