After struggle, Union Police catch suspected robber

UNION — At approximately 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14, Union Police officers responded to the Buy Rite Liquor Store, located at 1448 Morris Ave., after two men reported they were just held up at knife point in the parking lot, according to a press release from the police department.

The men made a purchase in the store and returned to their car when a man approached the men, showed a knife and demanded money while threatening to stab one of the men, officials said. One of the men gave him money and the suspect ran away. He got into a white Mercedes Benz and drove west on Morris Ave, police said.

This was the fourth robbery police say they have had with the same suspect and same vehicle as this incident, although officers had different variations of possible New York license plates, but nothing that matched a Mercedes Benz, police noted.

Officers Tom Florio and Pete Simon were concentrating their patrols in this area due to the recent robberies involving the same suspect and car, police said. Moments after the robbery, the officers, who were in an unmarked car and in plainclothes, saw a car parked in the lot at 1571 Morris Ave. They stopped to investigate and realized this unoccupied car was a close match to the robbery car, police said.

They used their radio car to block in this car and seconds later a man walked up to the car. According to police, the officers asked to speak to him, but he shoved Officer Simon and tried to run away. Both officers struggled with him and could not get him handcuffed, police said. The suspect was not merely trying to get away, he was punching and elbowing the officers in the head and face, according to officials.

At one point during the struggle, police say he pulled a knife out of a rear pocket and waved it in his hand. The officers thought he was about to try to stab them and grabbed his arm and the knife dropped to the ground. He screamed at the officers and told them he was going to kill them, police said. They continued to struggle with him and Officer Alberto Dos Santos arrived on scene and sprayed oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray, onto the man, but it had no effect, police said in a release.

Eventually, police said the officers were able to handcuff the man. They recovered the knife from under the car, which tye said had a 5-inch blade, and the car turned out to be a stolen car, taken from Enfield, Conn. The car also had a license plate that the man took from another car in New York, according to officials. The suspect was identified as Michael Molina, 27, of Chicopee, Mass.

Detective Walter Stinner investigated the Buy Rite parking lot robbery and was able to gather enough evidence to charge Molina with the robbery of the two men in the lot. He will also be charging Molina with the listed armed robberies:
• Delta Gas Station, 1384 Morris Ave., Union; Dec. 13 at 11:39 a.m.
• Shell Gas Station, 1568 Stuyvesant Ave., Union; Dec. 14 at 6:55 a.m.
• Exxon Gas Station, 2201 Springfield Ave., Vauxhall; Dec. 14 at 7:08 a.m.

In all the gas station robberies, Molina used the same car and threatened to stab gas station workers unless they gave him their money, according to police. He stole various amounts of money and also took the attendants laptop computer from the Shell station. No one was hurt in any of the robberies.

Molina was charged with a variety of criminal complaints, including armed robbery, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, weapons possession, terroristic threats, aggravated assault on an officer and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $350,000 by Union Municipal Court Judge Jonathon Rosenbluth.
If anyone has additional information on this crime or any other crime, contact the Detective Bureau at 908-851-5030.