Jonathan Nuccio, 21, of 112 Vermont St., Cranston, brazenly racked the shotgun he was carrying when he robbed the Bestway on Park Avenue, according to police reports, ejecting a live shell while he demanded money from the clerk on Feb. 10.
On Tuesday morning, the once-bold and brash Nuccio was cowering in a closet at 27 Greeley St. in Providence as Cranston investigators, along with members of the Rhode Island Violent Fugitive Task Force, "began to close the noose" on him, said Cranston Police Major Robert W. Ryan.
Nuccio, who was found on the first floor after a floor-by-floor search, is now facing charges of armed robbery for the Feb. 10 incident during which he fought with the clerk who managed to ward Nuccio and an unidentified accomplice off with a vacuum cleaner.
At the time, police said two dark-skinned men went into the store demanding money. As the fight with the clerk broke out, one of the suspects tried to open the cash register and was unsuccessful, so he settled for a few packs of Newport cigarettes and the clerk's cell phone.
They were chased outside by the clerk and another struggle ensued, causing a cut under the clerk's left eye. The suspects fled behind the building.
Police launched a two-week-long investigation and soon began a multi-jurisdictional manhunt.
Ryan said the Violent Fugitive Task Force is made of up law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals Service and State Police "and it has proven to be a very effective tool in the apprehension of fugitives."
Cranston Det. Sgt. Michael Gates and Det. Joseph Hopkins led the investigation. They worked with East Providence police and eventually developed information that ID'd Nuccio as the suspect holding the shotgun, according to reports.
Armed with a warrant, officers searched Nuccio's 112 Vermont St. address and "found the evidence they were looking for," police said.
Nuccio, who wasn't home, had apparently tucked the shotgun between the box spring and mattress of his bed. And in the top drawer of his bureau, police found shotgun shells "that were identical to the shell that had been ejected in the store during the robbery."
The clerk's cell phone was placed on top of a bible in a different bureau — apparently Nuccio didn't catch "thou shalt not steal?"
Police also found the black ski mask Nuccio allegedly wore during the robbery.
The following week, police followed several leads and gradually closed in and the break in the case came Tuesday morning when they descended upon the Greeley Street building and found Nuccio in the closet.
Nuccio was apparently also wanted on two warrants, one for failing to appear on a suspended license and another for failing to appear on a domestic vandalism charge.
He is being held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions.
Cranston Police Chief Col. Marco Palombo Jr. had high praise for the officers who worked the case.
"Excellent police work and a big assist from the Fugitive Task Force enabled us to remove a dangerous felon from the streets," Palombo said. "Great work all around."