A BB pistol was used in a string of a dozen robberies of Suffolk County gas stations and doughnut shops earlier this winter, according to court papers.

Suffolk Chief of Detectives William Madigan said Friday he suspected the weapon used in the holdups was a BB gun, but he couldn't say for sure until the crime lab completed its firearms report.

The alleged robbers -- Matthew McGurk, 25, of Commack, and Andrew Berger, 27, of Williston Park -- were arrested in January and charged with 12 counts each of second-degree robbery. They have pleaded not guilty.

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McGurk's attorney, Craig E. McElwee, said prosecutors would have filed first-degree robbery charges if there was evidence that a real gun had been used. McElwee denies that his client possessed any weapon.

Police said McGurk and Berger, who were indicted on Jan. 28, were heroin addicts and robbed businesses in 11 communities, from Huntington Station to Farmingville, between Dec. 22 and Jan. 14.

The case marked the second time a BB gun has been used in a Suffolk robbery spree in the past year.

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Authorities did not say that the weapon used in the recent robberies was a BB gun during a news conference held the day after the arrests.

Madigan was asked then if the alleged robbers used a "real gun" and if it was loaded.

"We're waiting for the lab to test that weapon," he said.

Madigan showed a surveillance video of both suspects during a December robbery. "You can see once again, the gun is clearly visible and I'm sure it looks real enough," he told reporters.

According to court papers, a "black BB gun" was used in the robberies. The gun was recovered at the final crime scene.

Berger was arrested on Jan. 14 by a Suffolk detective who followed him into a Blue Point doughnut shop, police said.

Berger pointed the gun at a cashier and the officer, who fired six shots at the suspect. No one was hurt.

In the other robbery spree, Christopher Marino of Medford was sentenced on Dec. 2 to 10 years in prison for robbing more than a dozen fast-food restaurants, gas stations and other businesses last year.

Police forensics experts believed Marino was likely using more than one handgun, one of which was a .45-caliber. A BB gun was recovered at one crime scene and at the body shop where Marino worked.