CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – When Ed Grigoryants steps outside his Kendall Square office building for a lunchtime smoke — he doesn’t space out.
“I pay attention,” says the 22-year-old Russian immigrant. “Or I try to. I try to.”
That was never truer than Tuesday afternoon, when a tall, slender man caught his eye — hanging out in front of the Eastern Bank branch right next door.
“And for some reason something clicked,” says Grigoryants.
“That was key in this case,” chirps Cambridge police Deputy Superintendent Steve Demarco.
WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports
As it turns out, Grigoryants was smoking in the same spot three weeks ago, just an hour or so before the Eastern Bank was robbed, and he is convinced he saw a suspicious character casing the place.
Staring at the familiar stranger yesterday, Grigoryants somehow saw past the phony-looking dreadlocks, beard and big sunglasses — and thought ‘this fella might be that crook.’
He also noticed the man was toting the same black pouch.
So Grigoryants slyly got a picture with his cell phone, and whisked it inside to a teller.
“I took a quick snap with my I-phone and ran back into the bank,” he says. “I asked ‘You recognize this guy?’ and they said ‘Actually yes. We do!'”
“She was positively sure that he was the individual that robbed her back on July 7th,” adds Deputy Supt. Demarco.
Cambridge officers arrived in minutes and pounced on 38 year-old Robert McWilliams with their guns drawn.
“As they approached him they observed what they believed to be a firearm,” says Demarco.
Gregoryants directed fellow smokers to duck behind a broad concrete pillar.
“In two seconds guns were out,” says Gregoryants with a smile. “I said ‘Back up everybody because you don’t know where those bullets will go.”
No worries, though.
The suspect’s plastic pistol was a fake — just like the dreadlocks that caught Grigoryants’ attention.
“Not only was he observant,” praised Deputy Supt. Demarco, “but he made his observations known to the bank and police.”
And for that, the Good Samaritan might find himself nominated for a civilian award.
Robert McWilliams has now been charged with the July 7th hold-up at Eastern Bank, and Boston police are looking at him for a pair of attempted bank jobs.
Grigoryants wishes he could quit smoking, but he’s glad something good came out of his bad habit.
“I like noticing things,” he says. “I always did.”