BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
MANISTEE — Wesley Paggeot and others in this lakeshore community finally can exhale: Police believe they've solved a recent string of armed robberies, including a New Year's Eve holdup at the Manistee Little Caesar's Pizza that Paggeot manages.
City and state police on Saturday apprehended a Manistee man they believe terrorized the community with a gun during three robberies over the last month.
"It's a big relief," Paggeot said. "I'm glad to hear that guy is off the street. It's definitely great news to hear."
State police arrested James Michael Parrinello, 29, on Jan. 28 following an all-out manhunt by city, state and county police officers as he cruised the streets of Manistee with a loaded handgun.
Parrinello, the son of a Manistee District Court probation officer, was arraigned on charges of robbery while armed, carrying a concealed weapon, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, using a firearm in commission of a felony, and driving without a valid license related to a Jan. 25 robbery at a Filer Township tobacco store.
Parrinello was denied bond and remains in the Manistee County Jail.
Manistee County Prosecutor Ford Stone said he also expects to file charges this week against Parrinello for the Little Caesar's robbery and another at the A&W restaurant, both located on U.S. 31 in Manistee.
State police allege Parrinello carried a small-caliber handgun with a laser site when he robbed Admiral Discount Tobacco store on Jan. 25.
City police late last week received a tip about Parrinello and state police gathered enough information to obtain a search warrant. Before they could serve the warrant, police learned Parrinello was in a car in the area and had a gun with him.
Area police agencies scoured the area and found him, and said they recovered a loaded handgun in the vehicle.
A search of Parrinello's residence recovered currency believed to have come from Admiral Discount Tobacco, Stone said.
Parrinello worked at an adult foster care home and does not have a prior criminal record, Stone said.
The motive appeared financial.
"We just think he was having a hard time making ends meet and paying bills," Stone said.
The Little Caesar's Pizza holdup occurred about 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 when a white male walked through the restaurant's front door and pulled a gun on employees. He ordered them to go into the bathroom and told them to stay there or he'd kill them, police said. He went through the cash register and left.
"All our security protocols are being followed, but when a guy walks right through the front door, what can you do?" Paggeot said.
On New Year's Day at 7 p.m., a gunman who matched the description from the previous night's robbery went into the A&W restaurant and walked into a back room where employees were closing the till. The suspect demanded money and left.