Cops: 3 arrested in armed robbery spree

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Police divers searched the Peconic River Wednesday for robbery proceeds and a gun after the arrests of three men suspected in a series of armed robberies over the past four weeks, Southampton Town police said.

Three Riverhead men were charged in connection with the robbery at the Valero gas station on Ludlam Avenue in Riverside just after 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, said Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa of the Southampton Town police.

That night, masked suspects displayed guns and took off with about $270, she said. "They did accost the clerk and started to rob him," Costa said, "and then one of three thought better of it and said, 'Let's get out of here before the cops come.' But the clerk was hit several times in the course of the robbery."

K-9 units from Riverhead town police and the Suffolk County sheriff's office responded with state troopers and Southampton Town police, but the robbers were gone.

Three Riverhead residents were arrested in the past few days and charged with first-degree robbery, police said: Larry M. Moore, 17, arrested Saturday; Erick C. Darden, 19, arrested Monday; and Arnell Nash, 21, arrested Tuesday.

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Town police divers did not find a gun or proceeds in the Peconic Wednesday, but they will try again in coming days, Costa said. "We'll still be working on it. The river is murky and sludge-filled, so it hasn't been the easiest process, although the dive team spent several hours trying to work the area."

In the past four weeks, masked suspects have hit four businesses in the Riverhead area, setting off a multiagency hunt for them. That included town police from Southampton, Riverhead and Southold, Suffolk County police, the East End Drug Task Force and Suffolk sheriffs.

On Oct. 20, armed robbers wearing masks held up Spirit Halloween in Riverhead about 9:30 p.m., Southampton police said. On Nov. 7, Barth's Drug Store on East Main Street in Riverhead was robbed at 6 p.m., police said. The most recent robbery fitting the pattern was Nov. 19 at a Mattituck gas station, police said.

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Costa said the investigation is ongoing. Detectives ask anyone with information to call them at 631-702-2230.

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