DERRY — Police have arrested a Pelham man who has admitted to five armed robberies in Salem, Methuen and Dracut, Mass.
Patrick Gleason, 25, of 18 Spring St. is in the county jail and investigators are working to link him to at least three other armed robberies.
Gleason was arrested by a team of police officers Wednesday night about a quarter-mile from his parents' home in Pelham. Officers from Salem, Pelham, Methuen and Dracut took Gleason into custody about 8 p.m. Wednesday while he was getting into his car.
Derry District Court Judge John Coughlin ordered Gleason held on $100,000 bail yesterday afternoon.
Police have linked him to the armed robbery last week of the Luk Oil gas station on Route 38 in Salem, and to four similar heists in Methuen and Dracut.
The Methuen robberies happened March 8 at Galloways Convenience Store at 176 Pelham St. and March 13 at the Stop Quick Convenience Store at 12 Haverhill St. In both cases, the robber pointed a black handgun at the store clerk and demanded cash from the register, police said.
Gleason also is charged with holding up the same Dracut liquor store two nights in a row — about three days before the Salem robbery.
Police said Gleason's unique hands helped identify him.
Surveillance photos show an armed man wearing gloves and holding the gun in an unusual manner. Those photos reminded Pelham police Sgt. Anne Perriello about prior contact she had with Gleason, who is missing his pinkie and ring fingers on each hand.
"They looked at the way the gun was being held in the picture," Pelham police Lt. Brian McCarthy said.
"He was using the thumb, index and middle finger."
Another Pelham police detective picked up a loaded handgun and held it using only the fingers Gleason was known to have.
"It was almost identical to what we saw in the picture," McCarthy said.
Gleason told police the black handgun he used was a BB gun he has owned since he was a child, according to a police affidavit by Salem police Detective Mark Donahue.
"Gleason stated he was a drug addict and that he had robbed the store because he needed the money to buy drugs," Donahue wrote.
Pelham police had already been working toward arresting Gleason on charges of stealing a pair of personal checks from his father, which he allegedly cashed for $800. He is facing charges of forgery, theft and receiving stolen property in Pelham.
Pelham prosecutor Dennis Mannion said Gleason has no prior criminal record, except for minor driving offenses.
"We had information he was in the process of fleeing the state," Mannion said, while arguing for bail. "He did, in fact, have bags packed for the trip."
Salem prosecutor Robert Prince likewise lobbied for a high bail.
"We definitely feel he is a danger to society and has a risk of flight," he said.
Coughlin entered no pleas on Gleason's behalf. He was charged yesterday with one count of armed robbery. Charges are expected against Gleason for the Massachusetts holdups.
Gleason was brought into court with the hood of his camouflaged jacket over his head. When a court officer pulled the hood back, Gleason turned away from the photographers and television cameras.
He declined to argue for any kind of bail.