Man Tried to Rob Vernon Animal Wellness Center With Wii Remote: Police

A man who police said tried to rob an animal wellness center in Vernon with a Wii remote to get  pain medication on Wednesday afternoon was caught after a search along the Hockanum River, according to police.

Employees of the Animal Wellness Center on Route 83 called 911 at 1:42 p.m. on Wednesday and said a man wearing a ski mask and black clothing demanded pain medication and he was holding what looked like a gun -- but actually turned out to be a remote control for a Wii gaming system. It was hidden in the sleeve of his black sweatshirt to imply he was concealing a handgun, police said.

The staff said they didn't have what the man was looking for, so he ran off toward Pleasantview Drive, police said. 

Moments later, a woman called 911 and said she saw a man dressed in black running through yards and thought he'd just done something, so she followed him and provided police with information on where he was, police said. 

The man, identified as Jason Rivera, 32, of South Windsor, had run into the woods and along the Hockanum River, police said, and officers found him hiding in a field.

He claimed he had stomach cancer and told police he was looking for liquid lidocaine or liquid morphine, according to the arraignment report.

Then, he said he was not sure if he had cancer, but had a cyst on his liver. Later, he claimed he was in pain and really wanted pain medication, the arraignment report says.

A Manchester Police K9 Unit came in to help and Manchester Police K9 Officer Kaczerski and his work dog, K9 Drago, found a shirt and ski hat police said Rivera tossed away in the woods as he fled from police.

Rivera was charged with first-degree robbery, criminal attempt to possess narcotics and interfering with police.

Rivera was arraigned at Rockville Superior Court and a judge placed him on medical and mental health watch. He is being held on $150,000 bond and is due back in court on April 8. 

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