MANCHESTER, NH (CBS) – A suspect chose the wrong time to rob a Manchester, New Hampshire coin shop. An off-duty police officer walked in moments later.
It happened Wednesday at Bob’s Coins of Manchester.
The clerk, Pauline Leclerc, was immediately suspicious when the suspect walked in with a surgical mask.
When she asked about the mask, the man said he had bad allergies.
“But I didn’t have a comfort feeling with him,” said Leclerc.
As the man took a look at some coins, Leclerc worked on a transaction with the off-duty officer, Mike Buckley, whom she knew because he had been at the store before.
“And we kind of looked at each other like you know this doesn’t look right,” said Leclerc. “It doesn’t feel right.”
As Buckley left the store, he gave the other customer one last look.
“I knew I gave him the inclination like don’t go far,” said Leclerc.
Soon after, the man, later identified as 40-year-old Ralph Blackey of Manchester, made his move.
“And then he reached in his pocket and pulled out a knife,” said Leclerc. I’d say the blade was 6 to 8 inches long and he came around the corner and stated ‘give me your money.’ I just yelled ‘call police.'”
Leclerc, who didn’t give the suspect anything, chased after the man as he fled. She was hoping to get his license plate number.
But the officer was ready. He had already gone to his car to retrieve his gun.
Buckley was able to detain Blackey, who was compliant and followed orders to get on the ground.
Blackey was arrested and charged with armed robbery. He was arraigned Thursday morning.
Leclerc was grateful for the crook’s bad timing as well as the officer’s quick-thinking.
“Oh my God, I’m so thankful for Mike, he was my guardian angel,” said Leclerc.
Manchester Police later determined that Blackey had phoned in a bomb threat to Manchester West High school before the robbery attempt, hoping to divert police attention away from the coin shop.
He’s been charged with making a false bomb threat.
Court records indicate Blackey made the threat from his own cell phone and that he admitted to making the threat, but told police there was no bomb and he wouldn’t have put children in harm’s way.
A school employee told investigators someone with a deep voice called and said “There is a bomb in your school.”
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