Man charged with armed robbery of Great Barrington Mobil Xtra Mart

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PITTSFIELD — "But I know who you are."

That was the response of a clerk about 3 a.m. Monday when a masked man entered the Great Barrington Mobil Xtra Mart and demanded money from the register.

"It doesn't matter," said the man, who had his hand in a gym bag in an apparent attempt to appear armed. He asked for two packs of cigarettes, took the money from the clerk, and fled the South Main Street store.

The suspect, Francis S. Taikowski, 25, of Warrensburg, N.Y., was arrested Tuesday afternoon during a traffic stop. He is being held without bail.

The clerk told police Taikowski has been a regular customer at the store during the three years she had worked there and she recognized him, in part, due to the curly red hair sticking out through one of the eye holes in the ski mask he was wearing.

She said Taikowski was waving the bag around as if he was concealing a gun inside and when he pressed it against her side, it felt like a handgun.

Taikowski left the store with about $140, according to court files. Great Barrington Police officers Victor Zucco and Chad Shimmon responded when the clerk hit the store's panic alarm.

Police said they are familiar with Taikowski and that he's also a suspect in a November 2015 Great Barrington burglary in which a pair of firearms were stolen.

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Great Barrington Police Chief William Walsh said, despite Taikowski's New York address, he also lives locally.

A warrant was issued for Taikowski's arrest and Great Barrington Police Sgt. Adam Carlotto spotted his vehicle on Main Street about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and pulled it over. Taikowski was arrested after police found him hiding in the trunk.

Two other local men who were in the car also were arrested.

Michael L. Thorpe, 35, of Great Barrington, who was driving, was charged with being an accessory after the fact, and Jeremy Babcock, 28, of Housatonic, was charged with witness intimidation.

They are expected to be arraigned Thursday in Southern Berkshire District Court.

Taikowski pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday to charges of armed and masked robbery, assault to commit armed robbery and larceny under $250.

He is being held pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Monday.

Great Barrington Police Officer Jonathan Finnerty also is involved in the investigation, Walsh said.

Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.


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