LAWRENCE — Three armed teens captured when they barricaded themselves in a convenience store during an attempted robbery Friday are part of a gang of thieves suspected in numerous shootings and business robberies across the city, police said yesterday.
Michael Tesaun Alicea, 19, Richard Mora, 18, and Ruben Saldana, 18, are part of local gang called “Everybody’s Killers” or “EBK,” police said. Police believe the trio and other EBK members are connected to at least seven other shootings and commercial robberies reported recently in the city.
“This is a gang-affiliated crew that’s out there doing all kinds of robberies ... a criminal enterprise,” police Chief John Romero said. “At the end of the day, that’s all you’re talking about is a bunch of thugs.”
Alicea, Mora and Saldana were each held on $500,000 cash bail yesterday after they were arraigned in Lawrence District Court on armed robbery and related charges stemming from Friday night’s incident at a 280 S. Union St. market. After trying to rob the store, manhandling the owner and his wife and pointing guns at them, the trio barricaded themselves inside and then tried to shoot their way out through a locked back door, police said.
They failed, however, and surrendered shortly before 11 p.m. after police surrounded the business. Each teen backed out of the store, one by one, with their hands on their heads and were immediately arrested.
The trio was additionally held on $50,000 cash bail for their alleged roles in a Jan. 9 stick-up on Shawsheen Road. A man said he was robbed of $300 when he arranged through Facebook to meet someone to buy an iPhone. Saying they were all EBK members, prosecutor Kelleen Forlizzi also said the teens used a fake Facebook account to set up robberies and lure victims.
Saldana and Mora appeared in court yesterday before Judge Mark Sullivan. Alicea was not brought into open court, as his defense attorney asked he be kept hidden due to his alleged role in the Jan. 9 robbery and identification issues in that case.
All three teens worked with Lawrence Public Works Department through an $800,000 anti-crime and violence reduction grant. The “Safe and Successful Youth Initiative Grant” specifically targets troubled and at-risk males between the ages of 14 to 24 years old, providing them with job training, GED classes and life coaching. The grant program is managed through the city’s Community Development department.
In court yesterday, as they argued for lower bail, defense attorneys for all three teens said they worked for the Lawrence DPW. Saldana and Mora also have young children they are supporting, defense attorneys said yesterday.
The charges they were arraigned on yesterday include: armed and masked robbery, kidnapping, unlawful possession of a firearm, discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling and unlawful possession of ammunition.
All three are due back in court on Feb. 15 for probable cause hearings.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.