Chicopee firefighter arrested in connection to 5 armed robberies


CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A Chicopee firefighter has been arrested in connection to five armed robberies.

Surveillance image captured at the Basics Plus Mini Mart as it was robbed Sunday. Photo Courtesy: Chicopee Police.

Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk told 22News 36-year-old Erik Henry is suspected of most recently robbing the Basics Plus Mini Mart on East Street and the TD Bank on Meadow Street Sunday.

He is also the suspect in the armed robberies of the Shell Gas Station on Springfield Street on October 21, the Westfield Bank on East Street on October 30 and the Quik Pic Convenience store located on Chicopee Street on November 22.

“I thought that my life is at his trigger, that my life is at stake,” said Zeheer Bhawa, who was robbed at gunpoint. “At that time was terrified. I was scared.”

Wilk said Henry is also being investigated by Springfield and Holyoke police in connection to similar armed robberies in those cities.

Chicopee Fire Chief Dean Desmarais told 22News, “The fire department is a bit stunned over the circumstances. Obviously it is an uncomfortable circumstance that has transpired. We are still trying to absorb the situation.”

Police detectives identified Henry as a person of interest and went to the Chicopee Fire Department late Tuesday night to speak with him.

When officers got there, they allegedly saw Henry sitting at the dispatch center and noticed a bundle of heroin on the floor behind his chair.

Henry was asked to walk with the detectives to the police department. On the way, Wilk said Henry told the detectives he had a hypodermic needle in his possession.

Wilk told 22News Henry was also found to be in possession were several bags of heroin and cocaine.

One woman told 22News she would never expect a firefighter to be accused of these types of crimes.

“I’m actually really shocked and surprised, because you wouldn’t expect that from someone in that type of profession,” said Aiesha Lewis of Chicopee. “And for it to be so close to where I live at, it’s actually kind of creepy.”

The firefighter has been charged with five counts of armed and masked robbery as well as possession of a Class A drug and possession of a Class B drug. He was held on $2540 bail and was arraigned in court Wednesday morning.

A dangerousness hearing is scheduled for Henry on December 6.

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