Tisbury police search for pair in Main St. robbery
Tisbury police are searching for two young men who, they say, robbed 79-year-old former police officer George Buckley of receipts from the Capawock movie theater Tuesday evening, at about 8:35 pm. The thieves disappeared into the night with an undisclosed amount of cash, despite the efforts of Mr. Buckley to catch them.
"I chased them up Church Street the best I could, but with steel knees, you don't run too good," Mr. Buckley told The Martha's Vineyard Times on Wednesday. He has had knee replacement surgery on both legs.
Mr. Buckley, who works at the theater and is known affectionately to movie patrons as "George the ticket man," said he was taking the night's movie receipts to a night deposit drop at the Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank branch at 65 Main Street, less then two blocks from the theater, as he has hundreds of times before. He said he was only a few steps from the drop box when two young males surprised him.
Mr. Buckley told police one of the young men pushed him into the front of Leslie's Drugstore and the other grabbed the bag from under his arm.
Angry Tisbury police Chief John Cashin offered a more colorful description of the robbers' getaway. "The two cowards ran up Church Street," he said.
Chief Cashin cautioned that chasing assailants is not usually the right thing to do in a situation like Tuesday night's robbery. As a result of the chase, there was a time lag between the robbery and when Mr. Buckley was able to get to a telephone, said Chief Cashin. It happened so quickly, Mr. Buckley was unable to provide many details.
"They grabbed it on the run," said Mr. Buckley. "They were up the street before... it takes a few seconds to figure out what happened. I knew the money was gone." He told police he was unable to get a look at their faces, but estimated the assailants to be in their late teens or early twenties.
Mr. Buckley, who was unhurt, told police one of his assailants was wearing a white shirt and the other had on a darker color shirt, maybe blue and one wore a baseball cap.
"At this point we are actively investigating it and would appreciate any help from the public that we can get," Chief Cashin said. "The street was quiet, no one was in the exact area."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Mr. Buckley is an unassuming man, concerned that he may have caused his friends and co-workers unnecessary alarm. "Everyone seemed to be more worried about me," said Mr. Buckley, who was chipper, even a bit feisty the day after the frightening incident. "Really, the thing that bothers me the most was that it wasn't my money."
Mr. Buckley has spent a good part of his life on Martha's Vineyard. After visiting for many summers here, he moved to Martha's Vineyard after getting out of the service. He served as a Tisbury police officer for three years, often working the midnight-to-eight shift. He is the grandfather of Tisbury police officer Kelly Buckley, who was scheduled on duty at midnight on the night of the robbery.
In 1968, he moved his family to Florida, where he worked in a boatyard. In 1994, he returned to the Vineyard to retire. His retirement has been active. He works as a crossing guard at the Tisbury School, and has worked as a ticket taker and doorman at local theaters owned by the Hall family seven nights a week, for the past 12 years.
"If I'm not at one of the Halls' theaters, I must be off-Island," said Mr. Buckley.
The Capawock Theater is a mainstay of the Vineyard Haven business district, and often the only business open in the late evening. Mr. Hall said this is the first time the theater has ever been robbed.
"It's very disheartening and disappointing that this could happen," said Ben "Buzzy" Hall. "Especially to such a fine gentleman as George Buckley. It was a mean thing to do. They knew something; they'd been watching I guess. It could have been worse, but it's still serious, it's serious stuff, it's still grand larceny."
Mr. Hall said there was a small crowd, about 40 people, at the movie theater Tuesday night, but declined to say how much money was taken. "It was meager, but it was more than we can afford to lose," said Mr. Hall.
Police are checking with other Main Street storeowners to see if anybody had video surveillance cameras pointed toward the street. Police have also stepped up patrols around the area, particularly at night.
Chief Cashin said that if any business owner stays open later than usual or feels uncomfortable and wants an escort on the way to the bank, he or she may call the police station. "We'll be happy to assist," he said.
Chief Cashin said the culprits would be wise to turn themselves in to police. He spoke in angry terms about the incident. "This offends me," he said. "It couldn't offend me more if it was my father. He has been there for years. He's a ticket seller."