Ithaca, N.Y. — A man has been arrested after robbing a smoke shop staffed by an elderly woman on Ithaca’s West State Street on Friday, according to the Ithaca Police Department.


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Will R. Howell, 32, of West Danby, will face robbery charges in part because the public helped IPD make a quick arrest, law enforcement said in a statement.

“The Ithaca Police Department would like to recognize the efforts of a number of citizens who observed this crime in progress and took action by calling it in to police dispatchers and providing detailed information, making efforts to assist the police department with apprehending a suspect, and following through with the investigation,” the statement said.

“Cooperation between the police department and citizens such as these is a critical component to effective policing. These citizens’ names will not be released at this time, but their efforts are greatly appreciated.”

Here’s the police account of the incidetn:

On Friday, at around 8 p.m., police were called to a robbery on the 100 block of W. State St.

Officers were told that the store at 124 W. State Street had been robbed “by a male that was fleeing from the scene on foot. It was reported that an elder female victim was yelling for help as the suspect fled the scene.”

Officers responded to the suspect’s precise location in part because of the help from bystanders who were talking with 911.

“These citizens described the perpetrator’s appearance and were able to maintain a visual of the suspect’s direction of travel until officers arrived in the area moments later,” the IPD statement said.

Police found the man matching the description, pursued him as he fled on foot through a number of properties and backyards and arrested him.

Howell has been charged with robbery in the 3rd degree, and petit larceny for currency stolen during the incident, according to the IPD.

The victim of the robbery was uninjured.

Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact the Ithaca Police Department Investigations Division. Police Dispatcher: 607-272-3245 Police Administration: 607-272-9973

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.