By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Police said Jose Alberto Camacho handed a bank teller a note indicating he had a gun, that he wasn’t afraid to use it, and that he had nothing to live for.
Camacho, 24, was in Haverhill District Court yesterday, where he faced a charge of armed robbery of Pentucket Bank on Merrimack Street. Police arrested Camacho on Tuesday following an investigation. They listed him as homeless.
Police said a man wearing a dark blue Boston Red Sox baseball cap walked into the bank at 35 Merrimack St. at 11:12 a.m. on Saturday and robbed with an undisclosed amount of money. The suspect handed a note to the teller demanding money, left through the front door and ran away, police said.
“Stay completly (sic) calm and normal,” the note given to the teller read. “I have a gun and I will use it. You have 10 seconds to put the money in the bag I hand you. No dye packs or you die. No alarms, big bills only. I have nothing to live for, don’t try me.”
During the investigation, a woman told police that Camacho had been staying at her apartment on Summer Street and that she recognized him in the bank surveillance photo because it showed a man wearing black fingerless gloves. She said Camacho wore gloves like that much of the time, according to police.
The bank provided police with still photos from the robbery showing the suspect wearing black fingerless gloves and a zipper-up jacket with a hood, dark pants and dark shoes. Police released the photo and it was published in Sunday’s Eagle-Tribune, resulting in several tips that the man in the image lived on Summer Street, investigators said.
Camacho’s court-appointed defense lawyer, Kristin Lummus, told Judge Patricia Dowling that Camacho preferred not to be photographed during yesterday’s court hearing. Dowling responded by saying the hearing was an open process and that Camacho would take part in it.
Camacho hid behind his lawyer during much of the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Sholds requested Camacho be held on $100,000 cash bail, citing his court record. Sholds said Camacho served time in the past, has several probation violations and has multiple defaults on his record. He did not mention any details of Camacho’s court record.
Lummus, asked for a “reasonable” bail amount and said that, according to the police report, witnesses said there was no weapon ever seen.
“There is certainly nothing on his record of this nature or magnitude,” Lummus said.
Lummus said Camacho is from Boston originally and his family still lives in East Boston. She said he completed ninth grade and is unemployed.
Dowling ordered Camacho held on $100,000 cash bail and issued a 60-day warning, meaning if he commits another offense while his case is pending, he could be held for up to 60 days without bail. Camacho is due back in court June 3 for a probable cause hearing.
Stolds, reading from a police report, said witnesses outside the bank told police they saw a man running on Merrimack Street and Water Street wearing an Adidas style running suit.
According to the police report, a man walked up to a teller’s window the day of the robbery and asked to cash a check. The teller asked him to wait a minute, as she moved some money she was placing bands around. The teller told investigators the man placed a bag on the counter and then handed her a handwritten note demanding money.
The teller told police she did not see a weapon and that the man wore what looked like a therapeutic wrist brace. The teller described the man as “very calm” and that he had scruffy facial hair and a goatee.
The teller said that after placing an undisclosed amount of money in the bag, which she described as a white reusable type of supermarket bag, the man walked out of the bank, leaving his note behind.
Stolds noted that the Sunday Eagle-Tribune published a photo of the suspect at the request of police, and that it resulted in police receiving several tips identifying the suspect as a man named Jose and that he lived at 51 Summer St.
Stolds said police went to that address and spoke to the landlord, who said there was a man named Jose staying with a woman in the right side basement apartment. The landlord said Camacho had resided with him in the past in a different apartment and that he (Camacho) owed him a lot of money.
Stolds said police went to the woman’s apartment and were told Camacho was not there, that he had been staying with her previously but that she threw him out three days earlier. The woman told police she knew him as Jose Isaiah Camacho, that he works at Taco Bell on Main Street and that people call him Isaiah because he doesn’t like to use the name Jose. The woman told police Camacho wears fingerless gloves much of the time.
“She pointed out the fingerless gloves in the photograph (bank surveillance photograph) and was shocked that he would do something like this,” Stolds said.
Police said Camacho was arrested on Tuesday just before 1 p.m. when he was spotted by Detective Joe Benedetti entering the Haverhill bus station in Washington Square. Camacho was arrested by Benedetti on a warrant for armed robbery issued Monday by Haverhill District Court.
Police spokesman Detective Lt. Robert Pistone said every tip received was followed up by the Haverhill Police Detective Unit, especially detectives John Moses and Joe Benedetti, who worked tirelessly on the case.
“The fact that they were able to conduct a bank robbery investigation, put a case together, ID the suspect, and place the suspect into custody within 72 hours is excellent police work,” Pistone said.