Nassau Police Officer Jeffrey Shaikh was on patrol in Hempstead with his K-9 partner when an urgent alert came over his radio: a suspect who investigators say committed a rash of robberies -- killing a gas station attendant during one -- had just held up a Westbury Citgo.

Shaikh, who has worked for five years with his police dog Jake, spotted the suspect's car. He was cautious, but deliberate, he said, and began pursuing the vehicle.

"I didn't want to scare him; I wanted to see his face," Shaikh told reporters Monday after receiving a citation from the Nassau County Legislature and the Nassau Police Benevolent Association for his work on the case, which had vexed police for months. "He sped away . . . I had to back off a little bit. But at this point, I had his plate and a good look at his face."

Three days after Shaikh spotted the man, Joshua N. Golson-Orelus, 23, of New Cassel, was arrested in June in upstate Utica -- using a GPS tracking device that police had put in the gas station's money, the use of which police acknowledged publicly for the first time Monday.

"There was a GPS that was in the money pack," said acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who declined to elaborate.

Krumpter, who also credited other investigators, said Shaikh's work -- identifying Golson-Orelus and getting his license plate -- was the "primary reason" he was arrested.

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"He's truly one of our best," Krumpter said of Shaikh. "He's constantly out there doing a great job."

Krumpter added: "This subject was a monster -- out and out monster."

Shaikh, a 16-year veteran, credited the electronics, robbery and homicide squads for their work and "getting a confession out of him."

Shaikh, who said he knew gas station attendant and shooting victim Hany Awad because he buys water at the Jericho BP station, said he was "highly" committed to cracking the case. Awad, 56, was fatally shot Jan. 28.

"He was a nice man," Shaikh said. "It [the case] had a special place in my heart."

It was unclear Monday if Golson-Orelus, who was charged in Awad's killing and is suspected of committing armed robberies of gas stations and convenience stores mostly in Hicksville, Jericho and Westbury between Dec. 20 and March 15, had been formally charged in those incidents.

A defense attorney for Golson-Orelus was not listed in online court filings. A spokesman for the district attorney declined to comment.

Jake, a handsome German shepherd, panted heavily and yelped a few times as he stood with his human partner.

Shaikh explained their working relationship: "We share in all the recognition. Usually it's his nose that leads to the big cases. This time it was mine. . . . It was a rough ride that night, so he deserves it."