HUGHESVILLE - After four robberies in a three-month period, the management and employees at the Uni-Mart on North Main Street are "relieved" that an arrest has been made in at least one of the holdups, according Jacqueline Neron, a co-manager at the store.
The ordeal of the holdups really left some of the store personnel "shaken," Neron said Saturday night.
"It has helped us a lot that they caught someone," Neron said.
It was learned for the first time Saturday that a masked man brandishing a knife also robbed a male clerk at the store about 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 2. Investigators never released information about that incident.
Neron was on duty Wednesday morning when a man wearing a Halloween mask and carrying a large knife entered the store about 7:30 a.m. and made his way to an office.
The bandit demanded money from Neron, but she refused.
"I was scared when he first walked in. I felt like my blood pressure dropped," Neron, who has worked for Uni-Mart for five years, said.
"He was holding the knife in such a way like he was showing it to me," not in a menacing way, Neron said.
"When I refused to give him the money, I didn't feel scared anymore. He then took off his mask and I screamed 'Did you seriously just take your mask off,'" Neron said.
The robber then "kind of freaked out," bolted to the front door, where he briefly struggled with a male employee who had been outside shoveling, Neron said.
The male employee, realizing the store was being robbed, blocked the door and tried to prevent the bandit from exiting, but the robber "rammed his way out, knocking the employee back," Neron said.
In about 40 minutes, state and area police arrested Jason Randall Spoeri, 29, at his home at 127 Lime Bluff Road, Wolf Township, about 2 miles from the store.
After allegedly robbing the store, Spoeri fled in a Subaru, police said. The male employee had recorded the car's license plate, which came back registered to a resident at the Lime Bluff Road address, police said.
Neron identified Spoeri as the alleged robber.
Police have not said if they knew what the motive was behind the holdup.
However, Neron said Saturday night that she would not be surprised if drugs turn out to be behind the robberies.
"I think the motive for these holdups is heroin. They want to get money to support their habit" she said.
Borough police have been working with state police in trying to solve the crimes.
In addition to the holdups on Wednesday and on Feb. 2, two others occurred, one on Jan. 22 and another on Dec. 4, Neron said. All the robberies were recorded on the store's video camera.
The bandit involved in last week's robberies and the one on Jan. 22 was wearing identical clothing, red pants and a gray jacket, Neron said.
State Trooper Paul McGee said that on the morning of Spoeri's arrest, police executed a search warrant at his home and "collected evidence that will be examined in connection with four previous robberies in the area."
As of Saturday night, Spoeri had been charged only with Wednesday's robbery. He remained jailed in the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail.