POTSDAM — A dropped cell phone, employee intuition and a reluctant getaway driver led to the arrest of a Massena man in connection with the Wednesday robbery of a Lowe’s Home Improvement store.
Police charge that at about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday at Lowe‘s Home Improvement located at 61 Country Lane in the village, David A. Bressard, 40, had attempted to purchase 10 various items from the store, totaling $1,203.87 and, when his credit card was declined, he forcibly stole property from the store. While doing so, police said he damaged a store vestibule and threatened to shoot an employee, however, no weapon was displayed.
Police said Mr. Bressard had fled the scene in a vehicle before they arrived, but with the assistance of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, state police and the Massena Police Department, they located Mr. Bressard in the town of Louisville and he was taken into custody.
According to court documents, a store employee and an assistant manager told police that something “seemed off” with Mr. Bressard while he was in the store.
An 18-year-old store employee told police she noticed Mr. Bressard with a cart full of Craftsman tools while with a sales associate.
“As I was clocking out, I saw the cart, still filled with merchandise. I thought it was going to be a ‘push out’ which is when the cashier is not looking the customers will push the carts out without paying for the product,” she told police.
She warned Assistant Store Manager Zachary Tudor and noticed a truck outside the store with two people in it, a male driver and a female passenger. She texted the New York State license number to her department manager and gave it to Mr. Tudor.
When Mr. Bressard reached the registers and was to be checked out by Mr. Tudor, he patted his pockets and said he forgot his credit card, leaving the store, going to the truck and returning with a card, Mr. Tudor told police.
Mr. Tudor scanned the items, so as to be ready for Mr. Bressard when he returned to the store to checkout; however, the card Mr. Bressard returned with didn’t have a name on it and the transaction was declined.
Mr. Bressard, again, went to the truck and returned and said he had to reduce the total, that it was $18,000 and had to be below $1,500 because that was what was on the card, Mr. Tudor said.
After reducing the price to about $1,200, the card was again declined.
“(H)e started pushing the cart towards the exit while doing so he looked at me and yelled ‘I have a gun, I’ll shoot,’” Mr. Tudor recounted to police. “He was frantically running towards the door with the cart full of merchandise when he ran into steel shelving located adjacent to the exit he was heading to.”
Mr. Bressard smashed the cart into glass doors, trying to leave and did so until they opened, all while Mr Tudor said he was on the phone with police dispatchers.
After the truck left, Mr. Tudor said he walked over to where the empty cart was and found a black cellphone next to it. He turned it on and hit the Facebook home button and he said Mr. Bressard’s picture popped up and was able to give his name to the police dispatcher.
The driver of the truck, Ryan A. Van Buskirk, Massena, told police he had no idea what Mr. Bressard was up to when he agreed to take him to the store and that Mr. Bressard was a friend of his other passenger, Michelle Gilbert, who told him to pick Mr. Bressard up.
He said Mr. Bressard came in and out of the store twice due to issues with his credit card and after the second time “(i)t seemed like seconds later David burst out the doors, running towards the truck.
“Michelle got out of the truck and David said, ‘Get the (expletive) in the truck, I told them I had a gun and that if they followed me, I would shoot them,’” Mr. Van Buskirk told police. “Michelle threw some things in the truck and they both got in the truck.”
Mr. Bressard cursed and told him to drive but Mr. Van Buskirk told him he didn’t want to be a part of what was happening but was fearful and didn’t know if Mr. Bressard actually had a gun.
“On the way back to Massena, Michelle said, ‘We are all in this together.’ I said, ‘We are all in what together, I had no idea what was going on,’” Mr. Van Buskirk said. “David said, ‘Everything was going to be fine and I would be taken care of when we got back.’”
Shortly thereafter, on Route 56 in Louisville, Mr. Van Buskirk was stopped by police.
Mr. Bressard is charged with first-degree robbery, fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies, and the misdemeanor of fourth-degree criminal mischief.
He was arraigned in Potsdam Town Court and was sent to St. Lawrence County jail, Canton, without bail.