A 21-year-old man is in custody after an armed robbery at a Portland grocery store on Tuesday night.
The armed robbery was reported at Tri-Town Foods on Marlborough Street as the store was closing at 9:30 p.m., police said at the scene.
The mother of one employee saw the suspect force himself inside the store as a store manager was locking the doors. Police said that woman witnessed the suspect holding a gun and then called police.
Police said when they arrived on scene, they watched much of what took place inside the store unfold through the windows of the grocery store. They watched as the suspect held 5 employees against their will.
“The suspect brought them into one particular area where he could then gather all the money from the store from the day’s take. At that point, Officer Licio saw the suspect guiding them to the back, brandishing a hand gun at their heads, at their bodies, you could tell that they were very nervous,” said Sgt. Scott Cunningham with the Portland Police Department.
He said the suspect -- Jayquan Swain of Portland -- wanted cash.
Police said Swain later walked the employees to the back of the store, where police lost sight of them.
Meanwhile, other officers were posted along the back door of the grocery store. Police said Swain was inside the store for five minutes, until an officer spotted him walk about the back door with about $13,000.
“The employees slammed the doors shut and apparently locked it at which time Lt. Milardo identified himself, put the suspect onto the ground,” said Sgt. Cunningham. Swain was then taken into custody.
While employees were scared, no one was hurt during the incident.
Police said Swain never worked at the grocery store. They're investigating why he chose to go to the grocery store, but they said Swain has not responded to any of their questions.
Swain appeared before a MIddletown courtroom Wednesday for his arraignment. He faces charges including robbery, larceny, unlawful restraint and kidnapping.
“A real good kid he’s just going through a lot right now. He’s dealing with a lot he really is. Oh God, my heart hurts so bad,” said Swain's godmother, Keisha, in tears outside the court house.
Police said the gun used in the incident was stolen out of Middletown. They later discovered the gun was not loaded.
The accused was also wanted on an active warrant for an incident in Middletown on Nov. 11, 2016. He was charged with risk of injury to a minor, third-degree assault, unlawful restraint and disorderly conduct for that incident.
Adams Hometown Market, which owns the store, issued a statement that read in part: "Thankfully none of our associates were injured during this incident. Thanks to the quick response of the Portland and Middletown Police departments, the suspect was apprehended while fleeing the building."
The company said it is making counselors available to employees after the incident.
Police continue to investigate. The store reopened for normal business Wednesday.