Man allegedly robs shop with grenade, arrested

Posted: 10/02/12 at 4:45 pm EDT      Last Updated: 10/02/12 at 5:16 pm EDT

ROCKLAND, Mass. (WHDH) -- Police have arrested a man accused of threatening a Tedeschi store clerk with a grenade in Rockland. Police say the grenade could have been set off during the robbery.

Authorities say 49-year-old Mark Whittles used a grenade to hold up a Tedeschi’s. Police say the explosive dates back to at least the Vietnam era.

On Friday, surveillance cameras in the convenience store captured video of the suspect and he can be seen holding the grenade in the air for employees to see.

“Yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind it’s a hand grenade,” said Chief John Llewellyn, Rockland Police Department.

Chief Llewellyn said the grenade had been modified and could have gone off.

“This bottom was drilled out by the suspect and a 30-odd six round, bullet round was put in there which has blasting powder in it,” said Chief Llewellyn.

Chief Llewellyn said an anonymous tip led them to the suspect, and good detective work led them to the grenade.

“The trash people coming down the street -- the detectives made the decision not to let them take the trash, which in hindsight was a very good move,” the Chief Llewellyn said. “We went through the trash a second time and found the hand grenade hidden inside a soup can with the cover put back on.”

Tedeschi’s CEO said he’s just glad the suspect is off the streets.

“To find out that it had been modified, and was in fact potentially harmful not only to our employee but to anyone else in the store, that is alarming. It just goes to show the desperation people are feeling these days,” said Peter Tedeschi, CEO of Tedeschi Food Shops.

The suspect had been staying in a building near the fire department in Rockland. The bomb squad was initially called in to look for the grenade.

The suspect is due in court on Wednesday.

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