By Cassandra Day
An off-duty police officer Monday morning is being credited with foiling a robbery in which two felons tried to make off with more than $3,000 at the TD Bank branch in Middletown.
Middletown Police say Guilford Police officer David Olszewski was shopping with his family in the Home Depot shopping plaza at 9:20 a.m. when he noticed two men donning masks and gloves and covering the license plate of a white vehicle in the TD Bank lot at 911 Washington Street.
He alerted authorities, according to Capt. Gary Wallace, and within a minute, Middletown Police officer Brenda Carlone arrived on scene, saw the men leaving in their car, and stopped them while additional officers arrived.
Police say Mustafa A. Muhammad, 44, of George Street, New Haven; and Hakim Salim, 48, of Howard Avenue, New Haven; both felons with multiple robbery arrests and convictions, entered the bank "in quite a dynamic fashion," jumped over the counter and quickly moved behind the tellers' station. With three or four customers and a full bank staff inside, the men managed to get $3,600 in cash before fleeing, police say.
"Employees recalled being shaken up but remained somewhat calm and cooperative," Wallace said afterward.
No weapon was displayed, however one of the suspects had his hand in his pocket and was moving it around, implying he had a weapon, police say. The other had a box cutter.
"The suspects never even made it out of the parking lot," Wallace said.
Each of the men has lengthy criminal records, with "charges too many to mention," Wallace said, and at least one has been arrested more than 30 times.
Both suspects have multiple alises. Salim has also used the names Michael Clyde, Michael Kemp, Michael Salam, Kenneth Shazel, Michael Shazel and Khalid Wali. Muhammad uses Benjamin Williams and Benjamin Cauley, police say.
There is no indication why Muhammad and Salim targeted the TD Bank, Wallace said, and there are four banks in that immediate area.
Salim was charged with second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit second-degree, third-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit third-degree larceny, second-degree breach of peace, operating under suspension, misuse of a marker plate, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.
Muhammad was charged with second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit second-degree, third-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit third-degree larceny, second-degree breach of peace.
Both are being held on a $500,000 bond and will be arraigned at Middlesex Superior Court on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
In September 2009, that same TD Bank was robbed by a woman, Heather L. Brown, 34, of Willimantic, who Wallace said left a bag in the bank to slow down police efforts as they brought in the Hartford bomb squad for investigation. She was arrested, eventually linked to six bank robberies in New England, and sentenced to 16 years on prison.