A gunman who preyed on commuters in lower Westchester was nabbed Friday, just as he was ready to commit another robbery, Pelham police said.
They believe Olivier Famby, 19, of New Rochelle, was responsible for as many as eight armed robberies in recent weeks targeting commuters in Pelham, Mamaroneck, Harrison and New Rochelle, Pelham police said Saturday.
Famby was arrested at 5:20 a.m. Friday, some 200 yards from the Pelham train station as he was looking for a new victim, Pelham Det. Rick Deere said.
Famby was parked on Corlies Avenue when a passing officer approached his car to issue a ticket for overnight parking in a zone where cars aren't allowed to be parked overnight, Deere said.
As he got closer, the officer realized there was a man inside.
"He realized the suspect had all black on, including a hood, and when he looked in the car he observed a handgun on the floor," Deere said.
Police arrested Famby and charged him with three counts of felony first-degree robbery, as well as second-degree criminal possession of a stolen handgun.
A search of Famby's car turned up evidence police said connected him to the other commuter robberies, including "some of the stolen property" Famby allegedly took from his victims at gunpoint, Deere said.
The robberies had sparked fear among commuters and led to increased police presence in communities where the suspect had committed robberies.
In Harrison, police dressed in SWAT gear and armed themselves with semiautomatic rifles, while police in other towns stepped up patrols in response to the threat.
The robberies began in January and continued into February. After police began publicizing the crimes and increasing their presence at local train platforms, the suspect did not strike again, according to Harrison police Chief Anthony Marraccini.
The suspect's modus operandi was to approach his victim from behind. Then he'd brandish a gun, tell his victim to lie down, and relieve them of cash, cellphones and other valuable gadgets, according to police.
Famby was arraigned in Pelham court and sent to Westchester County Jail without bail. Police did not say when he's scheduled to return to court.
Attempts to reach Famby and his family proved unsuccessful Saturday night.
Crime near Metro-North stations in Westchester has been on the rise in recent months.
Felonies rose 10 percent in 2011, with 35 incidents occurring in the first three months, according to the MTA. This year, felonies were up 26 percent in January, February and March on the five Metro-North lines: There were 44 felonies, with robberies and grand larcenies accounting for 33 of the reported crimes.
MTA spokeswoman Majorie Anders said the proliferation of mobile devices is mostly to blame.
"It has to do with the snatching of electronics, which is a nationwide trend," she said. "Thieves are grabbing cellphones and iPads, electronics . . . that's it in a nutshell."
Commuters at several Westchester Metro-North stations recently said they felt safe, but they remained vigilant.
"When I get off the train at night I'm always conscious of who's around me," said Cherie Ball, a 22-year-old Iona College student. Ball, who travels to and from her public relations internship in Manhattan, said she makes sure to be on the phone talking to her mother or a friend when she gets off the Metro-North train at the New Rochelle station.
"It's definitely scary," Ball said, as she waited for a train to Grand Central Terminal. "There's definitely been more police around, which is good."