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Rookies nab armed robber in Bellmore, Merrick, cops say

Nassau County Police Officer Ronald Curaba, left, and

Nassau County Police Officer Ronald Curaba, left, and Joseph Laundrie are shown outside the department's robbery squad in Bellmore on Monday, June 6, 2016. Earlier in the day, the two officers apprehended a suspect involved in multiple armed robberies that occurred on Sunday and early Monday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A pair of rookie Nassau police officers — one fresh out of the academy working his first shift — apprehended an armed robber who hit four businesses in Bellmore and Merrick in a six-hour span, police said Monday.

Jerrod Rollerson, 27, of Booth Street, Hempstead, who was armed with a loaded 9-mm handgun, was arrested after a brief chase and “scuffle” with the officers for stealing at least $2,657 in cash from the businesses beginning Sunday night and into early Monday morning, police said.

Charges were still pending Monday night, police said.

Rollerson, wearing a mask and brandishing the gun, first struck a Valero gas station at 207 Sunrise Hwy. in Bellmore at 9:57 p.m., police said. He got away with about $1,900 in cash and some Newport cigarettes, police said.

He then apparently took a few hours break, police said, before committing three more heists in a half-hour span in the same fashion: He first went back to the same Valero gas station at 4:34 a.m., police said. Then he struck a BP gas station at 2631 Merrick Rd. in Bellmore and at 4:58 a.m. he hit a 7-Eleven at 150 Merrick Rd. in Merrick, police said.

Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, appearing at a news briefing Monday afternoon at police headquarters in Mineola with the two rookies who arrested Rollerson, described him as “brazen” for committing the robberies, though he said police were only charging him with the 7-Eleven heist.

“I believe he is responsible for all four robberies,” said Krumpter, who added that investigators were pulling surveillance videos in the other stores to shore up their case. “We don’t have enough to charge him with the three other robberies. We are comfortable charging him with the robbery of the 7-Eleven. We believe the motivation for this robbery was related to the need for money for his child support and to provide support for his girlfriend.”

First Precinct Officer Ronald Curaba, a cop for a year, and Seventh Precinct Officer Joseph Laundrie, who graduated from the police academy just last Tuesday and was working his first shift at the time of the robberies, were among several officers who flooded the area in response to the heists.

Curaba spotted Rollerson, who fit the description of the thief, police said, and tried to talk to him. Rollerson fled on foot, so Curaba took off running after him, police said.

After a “short foot pursuit,” according to Krumpter, Curaba and Laundrie “tackle[d] the subject. He did obviously resist the arrest.”

Department officials wouldn’t let the cops do interviews, saying they didn’t want to compromise the case before the officers testify in court, but Krumpter pointed at the officers and said: “As you can see, they still have mud on the bottom of their pants. . . . Great work by two new police officers. We’re very proud of these cops.”

Police said Rollerson has a pending federal charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana from 2015 and was arrested just last week — May 28 — and was out on bail after being charged with third-degree assault and criminal mischief in Nassau County.

No one answered the phone at Rollerson’s home Monday. It was unclear whether he has an attorney.

Meanwhile the rookies were receiving accolades. Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki congratulated the pair before the TV news cameras started rolling.

“You got in a little scuffle?” Skrynecki asked the officers.

They replied: “Yes, sir.”

And the chief said: “Great job.”

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