BURLINGTON, Vt. - Tuesday, a Shelburne man pleaded not guilty to three armed robbery charges, and a second degree attempted murder charge.
It's after police accused 41 year-old David Rosario of robbing three convenience stores, and threatening to kill one of the clerks.
Just before 12:30 am, the Maplefields off exit 17 in Colchester was the first stop for local police.
Within a six hour span, police from Colchester and Essex responded to two more armed robberies.
"This is an age old issue of the overnight clerk being the only employee and they're vulnerable therefore by either shoplifting by being distracted by something else, or in this case an armed robbery," said Chief Jennifer Morrison.
At the Sunny Hollow Quick Stop in Colchester, Rami Faour says his uncle fought off an attacker with a box cutter.
Court documents show Rosario tackled the clerk to the ground, threatening to kill him with a six to seven inch knife.
"We are starting to feel more and more cautious and feeling more uncomfortable about the surroundings we're in, but uh, you know, we're a tough family, we don't usually roll over for anybody," said Faour.
The family says it's the second time their mom and pop store was hit in almost four months. This time, the robber got away with money, but he also caused $1,800 dollars in damage to the glass front door, as well as $400 in damage to the register.
In March, Faour was the clerk behind the counter.
He says he fought off a different attacker with a bat, chasing him out of the store. Police eventually apprehended a suspect in the woods, nearby.
"But now we have to arm ourselves when we come to work, it's a whole different ...the cozy little Vermont area has changed completely, dramatically," said Faour.
Chief Morrison says while she doesn't recommend fighting back, she understands why store owners do it.
"In the circumstance of a family owned business where it's all family members, all adult family members who are working there, they're made a choice to defend what is theirs. I support that choice," said Morrison.
Later Tuesday in court, Rosario faced a judge, where he pleaded not guilty to three charges of assault and robbery with a weapon, plus, one charge for attempted murder in the second degree.
Court documents show Rosario has lengthy criminal records in Vermont, New York and Florida.
"The store owners are sick of this, and many or them are armed, so something's gonna happen and it's probably not gonna have a good outcome for the bad guys," said Morrison.
Rosario is being held without bail at Northwest State Correctional Facility.
He is scheduled to face a judge again next Friday morning.
If convicted, Rosario could face one to fifteen years per assault and robbery charge, and up to 20 years for the attempted murder in the second degree charge.
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