The hunt for a suspect in the fatal shooting of a gas attendant in a botched January robbery ended Wednesday when police tracked a New Cassel man to upstate Utica, authorities said Thursday.
Joshua N. Golson-Orelus, 23, of 162 Pearl St., was arrested after he had allegedly committed another robbery on Long Island Sunday, with a friend's car, giving police a break in that case.
Golson-Orelus was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted robbery and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the Jan. 28 shooting death of Hany Awad, 56, of Levittown, a clerk at a BP gas station in Jericho.VideoSources: GPS device led police to suspectPhotosRecent LI mug shotsDataLI crime stats
He also faces a second-degree robbery charge after the Sunday holdup of a Westbury Citgo, according to prosecutors and court papers.
Golson-Orelus was ordered held without bail after his arraignment Thursday in First District Court in Hempstead. His Legal Aid attorney entered a plea of not guilty. He is due back in court Monday.
The Jan. 28 killing and holdup was one of a dozen armed robberies of gas stations and convenience stores in Nassau between December and March.
Golson-Orelus is a suspect in those robberies, according to Nassau Homicide Det. Sgt. James Skopek, but he would not specify how he is linked to those crimes.
It's also unclear how police connected Golson-Orelus to Awad's killing. But Skopek said he had not been under surveillance.
On Sunday, he "accosted the two clerks at gunpoint" around 2 a.m. at the Citgo, Nassau Chief of Detectives Kevin Smith said. One clerk handed him cash, and then Golson-Orelus "calmly looked for more cash behind the counter," Smith said.
Golson-Orelus used a BB gun in the robbery and made off with $3,637, court records said.
He then jumped into the borrowed car parked nearby and drove erratically on Stewart Avenue toward Hempstead, where a Nassau K-9 officer on patrol spotted him and pulled up to the car, Smith said.
The two made eye contact. "He actually sees him -- eye to eye," Smith said. Golson-Orelus, who detected the officer, sped off, Smith said.
"Our officer can't keep up with him and it might not have been prudent to try to at that point because the speeds were so fast," Smith said.
But the officer was able to record the car's license plate number, Smith said.
At some point, Golson-Orelus returned the car to his friend in Hempstead village, where police located it, authorities said. Golson-Orelus later headed to Utica, where he was at a relative's home, police said.
The investigation led authorities upstate, where members of the Nassau and Utica police departments and the U.S. marshal's office were among those who helped capture Golson-Orelus, authorities said.
Police don't believe Golson-Orelus had any accomplices.
Police earlier said the person suspected in that fatal shooting also had been suspected of committing at least 10 of the other armed robberies of gas stations and convenience stores -- mostly in the communities of Hicksville, Jericho and Westbury -- between Dec. 20 and March 15.
At Thursday's news conference, acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the case "was a top priority" for the department "for the last six months."
"Thousands of hours went into this investigation," he said.
Golson-Orelus' family and Awad's family both declined to comment Thursday.
Golson-Orelus faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted, acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release.
"This arrest has taken a menace to public safety off the streets and we will prosecute this case aggressively to ensure that he'll never threaten our communities again," Singas said.
With Gary Dymski