Salamanca police looking for box cutter-wielding robbery suspect

Surveillance video images of a male suspect who robbed a Salamanca gas station Sunday night. The Salamanca Police Department is asking for the public’s help to identify him.

SALAMANCA — The Salamanca Police Department is asking the public to help identify a suspect who robbed a Broad Street gas station Sunday night armed with a box cutter.

Salamanca police on Monday released images of the male suspect, who allegedly entered Grand Center Station at approximately 10:50 p.m. July 7, scuffled with a female clerk and grabbed money out of the cash register before fleeing on foot.

“It wasn’t much,” said Salamanca Police Chief Troy Westfall about the amount of money taken, “but it was theft by threat of force.”

The suspect allegedly had a box cutter in his hand during the robbery. While the female clerk was not injured, police said the weapon posed a serious threat to her.

“It most certainly is an armed robbery,” Westfall said. “You could kill somebody with a box cutter.”

The suspect’s face is completely obscured in the surveillance video images, as he’s seen wearing a black hoodie and ball cap.

While police acknowledge the images “are not the best,” they’re also hopeful someone will recognize him.

“I think somebody knows that individual just by seeing that little bit of a picture and could probably figure it out, and hopefully they’ll call us,” said Westfall, adding police believe the suspect is a local resident because he appeared to arrive and flee on foot.

The city of Salamanca had a total of five reported robberies from 2014 to 2017, according to City-Data.com, which compiles data on communities throughout the U.S.

Salamanca had at least two reported robberies in 2018. A man reportedly posed as a cable company employee to gain access to a woman’s home and steal money in May 2018, while the Cattaraugus County District Attorney’s Office alleges the December 2018 stabbing death of a Buffalo man was part of a drug-related robbery.

As for Sunday’s robbery of Grand Center Station, Westfall said he’s thought about whether drugs played a role.

“Why would somebody do that? First thing I think about is maybe they’re taken too far in with substance abuse that they resort to something like this,” he said. “I would rather nip it in the bud now than something more dangerous happen.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Salamanca police’s Facebook post about the robbery had been shared nearly 300 times. Anyone with information is asked to call Salamanca police at 945-2330. Police said calls will be kept confidential.

“Hopefully the phone starts ringing,” Westfall said. “Maybe we get lucky. You only need one little break and something like this will come completely open.”

(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at tdinki@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)