On 11 November 1976 at about 8:00 p.m., a man entered a liquor store and asked for a pint of vodka. According to the clerk, the man was in the store for about two minutes, the man spoke with a slight Slavic, Polish or Russian accent, and he told the man he had nothing smaller in vodka than a fifth. At 8:30 p.m., the man returned and asked for a fifth of vodka, placing a $20 bill on the counter, but when the clerk obtained the vodka from a shelf at the back of the store and returned to the counter, a criminal law violation or a felony ensued; there was a handgun crime (possession of a weapon); the man pointed a gun at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor. The clerk was clearing the cash register as the man came in and had left the drawer slightly ajar, but had not removed the bills from it. Lying on the floor, he heard the noise of the spring clips in the register compartments, indicating to him that the money was being removed and the noise of the door to the store opening and closing. After the robber left, the clerk noted that the $190 that had been in the register was gone and that the vodka was still on the counter. The elapsed time from beginning to the end of the man’s second visit was four to five minutes.
Thereafter, the clerk called the police, and two patrolmen arrived within 10 to 15 minutes. The clerk told patrolman-one that the man was about 5 feet 9 inches with long hair roughly to his collar and light brown in color, with a long thin face and a slight mustache, that he was wearing a long leather-type jacket with a belt and baggy pants of navy blue, and that the gun was black, with a short barrel and short chamber. Patrolman-two sought witnesses outside and was advised by witness-one that she had seen a tan van, possibly rust color too, with two male occupants and bearing out-of-State plates circle the area approximately four times, that it had stopped about 50 yards from the liquor store, and thereafter proceeded south. Patrolman-one broadcast the description of the robber received from the clerk and patrolman-two added, as part of the same broadcast, the description he had received of the van. Patrolman-two then went back to witness-one and asked her whether the van was colored like a U-Haul van to which she responded that she believed so since there was writing on the side, that the driver of the van had asked for directions, and that he was a white male, with brown curly hair, a slight mustache and a thin face. Patrolman-two then made a second radio broadcast stating that the van could possibly have been a rental van, a U-Haul van. A Suffolk County Criminal Lawyer said his testimony does not reveal whether the second broadcast included the description of the driver of the van that he had received from witness-one.