March 12, 2010

Police: Suspect borrowed gun


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John Patriquin/Staff Photographer;Friday.,February 20, 2009. Richard Lee Campbell stands with "Lawyer of the Day" Randall Bates for his court appearance for armed robbery of a coffee shop in Portland last Tuesday.

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Police say in court papers that Richard Lee Campbell, a suspect in a series of armed robberies this week, borrowed a distinctive revolver from an acquaintance an hour before the first heist.

A search of Campbell's North Street apartment turned up a red sweatshirt and a blue winter coat, both of which matched descriptions of clothing given by victims of a series of armed robberies over a 24-hour span, the police affidavit said.

Campbell, who spent 17 years in prison for an armed bank robbery in Utah, was in Cumberland County Superior Court on Friday for an initial appearance. He did not enter a plea and did not contest his bail, set at $100,000 on the charge of armed robbery.

For now, he is being held without bail because he was already out on bail for an earlier domestic violence charge when he was arrested Tuesday.

Campbell, 54, has been charged in only one robbery: Tuesday's daytime holdup at Others Coffee Shop at Monument Square. Police say any other charges would likely come as a result of indictment, after the evidence is presented to a grand jury.

Campbell also could face federal charges of violating the conditions of his release from prison.

The first robbery reported to police took place Monday at 6:30 p.m., when a man with a red, hooded sweatshirt threatened two stylists at Salon Burke at 550 Congress St.

Both stylists were with clients when the man, wearing a cloth over his lower face, pulled an antique-looking revolver with a 10-inch barrel and threatened to kill one of the clerks if she didn't give him money, according to an affidavit that Detective Richard Vogel filed with the court.

After the woman handed the man $300, the gunman ordered the four people into a bathroom and left.

Then, on Tuesday morning, a 25-year-old woman reported a carjacking at the Maine Mall. As the victim opened her car door, a man put a handgun to her back and told her to push the seat forward so he could get in the car. He got in the back seat and told the woman to drive out of the parking lot, but she fled.

The man drove away. He was wearing a blue winter jacket, South Portland police said.

Just before 1 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to Others Coffee Shop. The clerk said a man ordered a biscotti, then when she opened the register, he pulled a black ''glassy-looking'' handgun and demanded money, according to the police report. The clerk said the gun was a semiautomatic, not a revolver, but she wasn't sure if it was real.

She put about $700 in the bag with the biscotti, and the gunman ordered her to the ground and told her to lie there for 10 minutes, the report said. He was wearing a blue winter jacket.

Earlier in the day, Officers Daniel Knight and Karl Geib had told Vogel that they had seen an antique-looking revolver at the Cedar Street home of Garland Lucas, which they were visiting the week before on an unrelated matter.

The officers checked back with Lucas on Tuesday, and he told them that he had loaned the gun to Richard Campbell on Monday, around the time it was getting dark. Campbell had said he would return the gun in a couple hours, but hadn't, the police report said.

Campbell had been wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, the report says.

Campbell's physical description matched that given in both Portland robberies and the South Portland attempted abduction.

The coffee shop clerk picked Campbell out of a photo lineup comprised of six men, all with similar hair and mustaches.

Tuesday afternoon, detectives went to a North Street apartment Campbell shares with his girlfriend. There, they found a red sweatshirt and a blue winter jacket.

Later Tuesday, robberies were reported at Pratt-Abbott Cleaners in Portland and Payless Shoes in Westbrook.

Police spotted Campbell on North Street at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday and arrested him. He no longer had a mustache and said he had shaved it weeks before, according to the police report.

The report said Campbell was found with several white latex gloves; $111, including $25 in singles wrapped in a brown paper money band; a half gram of what police suspect was cocaine, and two hypodermic needles.

Campbell was not asked to enter a plea at Friday's hearing, during which he was assigned a court-appointed attorney. A court date of April 22 was set, at which time he would be expected to either plead guilty or request a trial.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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