Keene Police Department and Campus Safety had a busy night when a gunman and robber endangered the lives of students and their sense of safety on Nov. 16 and 17.
Late into Friday night and early Saturday morning, multiple students allegedly encountered a suspicious male showing the shiny end of a pistol before he continued eluding the police, according to Katie Corbett, campus liaison officer at KPD. The alleged suspect is Justin Robinson, who, according to the KPD press release, was arrested and charged with one count of armed robbery and one count of reckless conduct on Saturday. “He was arrested from his home and is considered to be a danger to the community,” Corbett said. Robinson is a 22-year-old citizen of Keene. He came from a house party on Winchester Street; the house is not rented by KSC students, Corbett said.
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According to the Campus Safety report, pulling from the Jason of the “Friday the 13th” films, Robinson wore a Boston Bruins “old style goaltender’s mask,” jeans and no shirt. At the party, Robinson got into a verbal disagreement with another person before he showed his gun and left the party swiftly, Corbett said. When leaving the party he pointed his pistol in senior Amanda Mills’ face, yelled, and then ran toward the Science Center, according to Mills. “We were walking home and kids were screaming and I turned around, and there was a kid with a pistol in my face,” Mills said.
After, Mills said she was hustled inside her house by her friends and roommates, KPD conveniently drove around the corner; one roommate flagged them down and explained what happened. KPD then alerted Campus Safety and the chase began. Campus Safety, according to the report, alerted all students via phone and email as the campus went on full lockdown. Once Campus Safety was alerted Director of Campus Safety Amanda Warman said the officers took on a new serious nature. “We were at a heightened state of vigilance,” she said.
Robinson was reported again on campus when he stopped a couple of students and robbed one man of his sweatshirt, according to the report. No one was physically injured by either event, the report said. After KPD’s K-9 unit attempted to track Robinson, who was still only a suspect in a goalie mask, and conducted an area search of KSC, Robinson was still at large, according to the Campus Safety report. Several KPD officers stayed on campus for the rest of the night and Campus Safety held the school on lockdown for the next five hours, the report said. At approximately 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning, the lockdown was lifted, according to the report. Robinson was held without bail, according to a KPD press release. Robinson was then transported to Cheshire County House of Corrections. Robinson appeared in the Eighth Circuit Court of Keene on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
In another incident the day before, Friday started as any other day until around 6 p.m. when a man with a knife, now known as Saithe R. Corliss, allegedly attempted to rob Ingenuity Country Store on Main Street.
Senior Lauren Sutherland and her family own the store and Lauren recounted her tale of staring at the end of a knife. “It actually start[ed] Monday [Nov. 12]. When we were about to close this kid came in and he’s like ‘I had some stuff on hold earlier.’ We looked around and we were like ‘we don’t have it [the items on hold],’” Sutherland said.
Sutherland said Corliss allegedly assumed that the store must have put it back on the floor so the clerk went to get it. When he came back with his stuff, Sutherland said he handed her his credit card but it would not work because the card expired last month. Corliss allegedly said he would go home and get money and be right back if they would stay open for him because the store was closing in ten minutes. Corliss did not return that night; however, according to Sutherland, this wasn’t the last time the Ingenuity County Store saw this suspect.
Every day since that Monday Corliss allegedly came into the store and would put items on hold claiming he would be back, Sutherland recalled. He allegedly attempted to disguise himself with a fake beard the remainder of the week and on Friday made his move after coming to the store three times, according to Sutherland.
“I recognized him because he has awkward-shaped eyes. I was like, ‘Why is he wearing a fake beard?’ We get so many weirdos in the store that it’s not like anything to think about,” Sutherland said. Corliss allegedly approached the counter saying he had left something there and he was ready to pay for it, Sutherland recollected. He left a fake name, Jeff, and number, she said. Sutherland checked the front desk and saw nothing and asked her girlfriend and co-worker senior Sasha Kondraski if she could check in the back of the store. Corliss said that he would just go get another one, Sutherland said.
“He walked around to the postcards and brought one up to the counter and he paid me with a half dollar. When I went to ring him up and to give him the change, he jumped up on the counter and started reaching his hands into the register,” Sutherland said.
Her first instinct, she said, was to close the register and push Corliss off the counter. Without her knowledge that there was a knife, Corliss allegedly shook the weapon at her, she backed up and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“My first thought was Sasha’s in the back so she’s safe. My second thought was, [expletive] my dad’s going to be so pissed at me. The whole time I have my eye on the knife. I look at him and I started to realize what’s happening and I started to reach behind me to find something I could hit him with but by that time he was already off the counter and out the door,” Sutherland said. Before the suspect left the store, Sutherland had her phone in her hand dialing 911. A woman was in the store at the time and she also called 911 when she saw what was happening.
Sutherland said it felt like it took the suspect ten minutes to get the money out of the register but was only five minutes. Corliss allegedly made off with about $400, according to Sutherland.
“He only got the twenties, the tens, and the fives. He missed the section with the hundreds and fifties in it. He only got 400, if he came back the next day he would have gotten over a 1,000,” she said. According to Sutherland, this was no random robbery. With the multiple visits during the week and the three visits on Friday, Sutherland said she thinks Corliss was “staking us out.”
“He would come in and see how the register opens. We have no cameras, no men work there. It’s the perfect place to rob; we have no cameras, all women work there, and its right next to a dark alley. You only have to go through one set of doors and the register is right by the door,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland said she called her manager in because she had seen him before and she remembered him giving her a different name besides Jeff. “He was in there flirting with her and gave her his real name, so she called the police back with that information,” Sutherland said. On Saturday, Sutherland said the police brought in a photo lineup for Sutherland to look at and without hesitation, Sutherland chose the third picture, Corliss. “He [police officer] was like ‘How do you know?’ The eyes, you can tell,” Sutherland said.
Corliss was arrested Sunday night after attempting to rob Elm Street Market, according to Sutherland. Corliss is being held on a $25,000 bail. He faces charges of probable cause and was in court Wednesday, Nov. 28, according to Lieutenant Steve Stewart.
Sutherland’s family is now getting a security system and changing some of their policies, she said, such as counting the money after the store is locked up and after dark no one is to be alone at the register. “My mom said it’s not an ‘if it will happen, but a when it will happen’,” Sutherland said.
Was it a full moon that caused the chaos of Friday night and early Saturday morning? Nonetheless, KPD and Campus Safety had a night of chasing suspects, reporting events, and, in the end, arresting the criminals responsible of disturbing the safety of Keene, N.H.
Kaitlyn Coogan can be contacted at
Contributing information by Whitney Cyr
and Brittany Ballantyne.
For more information about the gunman see A10.