Man charged with using hypodermic needle to rob salons

WESTFIELD — A Holyoke man has been charged, in two courts, with assault by means of a hypodermic needle while robbing or attempting to rob hairdressers’ salons.

Westfield police received a call at 5:40 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, reporting that a man had asked an employee of an East Main Street hairdresser to open the cash register and, when she refused “he pulled out a hypodermic needle and charged [at] her.” The man then, according to a subsequent police report, grabbed the cash drawer and fled on foot.

Employees of the hairdresser provided detailed descriptions of the man and multiple witnesses reported seeing the man get into a smaller blue SUV in the parking before the vehicle left the area.

Police were also told that the suspect cut his hand while taking the cash drawer — which was reported to contain about $1,000 — and samples of “some reddish/brown spots on the floor and some receipts” were retained as evidence.

Westfield Police Detective Anthony Tsatsos reported in a court document that four days later, on Sept. 29, a man entered a Northampton hairdresser’s establishment and “threatened the employees with a hypodermic needle and ordered them to open the cash drawer. They refused and he fled the store on foot.”

That man was seen getting into a blue Nissan Rogue SUV, which was stopped by Northampton police.

Bret J. Waddell, 46, of 72 Elmore St., Holyoke was taken into custody and the van was found to be registered to a woman at the same address Waddell provided Northampton Police.

Clothing recovered by Northampton police included a hoodie that fit the description of the clothes worn by the robber in Westfield, and a photo of the man in custody showed him to have a small cut on the back of his left hand, which was beginning to scab over.

Waddell was arraigned, according to an affidavit filed by Assistant District Attorney Andrew D. Ott, in Hampshire Superior Court on charges of assault with intent to rob and assault with a hypodermic.

Held at the Hampshire County House of Correction, Waddell appeared, via a Zoom hearing, before Judge Charles Groce on Tuesday, Nov. 23, in Westfield District Court.

Arraigning Waddell on charges of armed and masked robbery and assault with a hypodermic, Ott filed a motion for “pretrial detention or, in the alternative, conditional release, based on dangerousness.”

Groce ordered that Waddell be held without right to bail pending a Nov. 26 dangerousness hearing. However, on Friday the hearing was postponed until Dec. 10.

District court does not have final jurisdiction for either of the charges Waddell faces in Westfield, so his case is expected to eventually be heard in Hampden Superior Court.

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