A Salem resident who was arrested in April, accused of robbing $300 in cash from the Mobil gas station on Essex Avenue while armed and masked, is being held in jail until at least September.
Salem Superior Court Judge Salim Tabit’s decision to detain former Gloucester resident Eric Richard Mackie, 21, of 11 Boston St.,Salem, until a pretrial hearing Sept. 18 came during a hearing Friday, Aug. 7, that addressed charges of armed and masked robbery and possession of Class C drugs the suspect faces.
The charges are tied to an April 5 incident when police say Mackie, formerly of Cleveland Place, and an unidentified person robbed the Mobil gas station. Mackie was later identified as the person who put a knife to the clerk’s throat and demanded money.
There is video footage of the incident which is “remarkably clear,” Essex County Assistant District Attorney Alexander Grimes told the court.
When two police officers were dispatched to the gas station at 10:26 p.m. that Sunday, they saw the two reported suspects and gave chase on foot.
An officer was able to apprehend one suspect — later identified as Mackie — at gunpoint while the other got away, explained Lt. David Quinn.
After his arrest, Mackie was found to have a knife wrapped in a black bandana, cash, and stolen cigarettes.
The clerk who had been held at knifepoint later told police that this had been his first time working the night alone and that he was “frightened” and “terrified,” Grimes recounted.
Although Mackie is young, Grimes argued that because his past convictions involve violence and probation violation, “there is no condition that would assure the public safety and Mr. Mackie should be held without bail pending this trial.”
Attorney Thomas Pierce, representing Mackie, made the case that the former Gloucester resident be released to stay with his mother in Salem, be banned from the store in question and have no contact with its employees or any witnesses, obey a curfew, and pay $1,000 bail.
“He is a young man, obviously, and he has had some bumps in his criminal history but we have a stable place for him to stay and he was trying to get himself back on his feet from this last incineration at the time of his arrest,” Pierce said.
He also suggested that there is a potential ID issue in any case where the perpetrators of a crime are masked and that the “items seized from or are being attributed to Mr. Mackie was actually seized the next morning from the general area.”
Following both lawyers’ statements, Tabit commented that what was “incredibly concerning” about the incident was that not only did the robber, suspected to be Mackie, hold the clerk at knifepoint, but that the knife was put to his neck and he was told, “No joke, give me all the money.”
“That is troubling,” Tabit said, concluding that “upon clear and convincing evidence ... no conditions of release will easily assure the safety of the public.”
Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.