SOMERVILLE – On Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, Officer Daniel Haley of the Somerville Police Department was dispatched to Liquor Junction, located at 14 McGrath Highway, following a report of a robbery in progress.
Officers Brian Pavao, Priscila Ribeiro, and Detective Mark Pulli also responded as backup.
While enroute, Somerville dispatch radioed to inform the responding officers that the suspect was a tall male wearing a hooded green jacket, jeans and red sneakers. The suspect was also heading toward Cambridge.
(The account and quotations contained in this article were taken from the printed Personnel Narrative of Officer Haley.)
When Officer Haley arrived on scene, he spoke with the victim of the robbery and two witnesses.
The victim told Officer Haley that as he was walking out of Liquor Junction into the parking lot, he noticed a man was following close behind him.
“[The victim] said that he turned around and faced the man, who said something to the effect of ‘give me your s$it,’” Officer Haley said. “[He] said he told the man that he didn’t have anything and that the man then struck him in the right eye with a closed fist, knocking him to the ground. [The victim] said he was carrying two 1.75L liter bottles of Maker’s Mark and Johnny Walker Red, which the man then took from him once he was on the ground.”
The victim gave a description of the suspect to Officer Haley that matched what dispatch relayed to police while they were heading to the scene.
Officer Haley then spoke with the first witness who said she exited Liquor Junction right behind both the victim and suspect.
“[Witness 1] said she saw the suspect strike [the victim] and take his bottles of alcohol,” Officer Haley said. “[Witness 1] said she began yelling for help and attempted to get the suspect off of [the victim]. [The witness] said that the suspect then turned towards her, took the bottle of Johnny Walker Red and threw it at her, nearly hitting her. [She] stated that the suspect was yelling at her and began walking away. At this time, [the witness] stated the suspect then took the second bottle he had taken off of [the victim], a glass 1.75L bottle of Makers Mark, and smashed it open on the ground in anger, before fleeing towards Cambridge. She also stated that the suspect yelled for [the victim] to give him his wallet.”
The second witness corroborated what the first witness said and had taken pictures of the suspect, which he provided to Officer Haley.
Officer Haley showed the photos taken by the second witness to the victim, who confirmed that the man in the photo was in fact the man who robbed him.
Officer Haley then distributed the photos to the officers searching for the suspect, who was last seen heading in the direction of Cambridge.
When Somerville officers were searching the area, they noticed that Cambridge police were also searching the area.
“They stated that they were searching for a man fitting the same description as our suspect, for a similar incident that just occurred in their city (Cambridge Incident #23008514),” Officer Haley said. Adding, “Shortly after, Officer Ribeiro called over the radio and stated that she located the man in the photo behind Dunkin Donuts on Third Street in Cambridge and requested a Cambridge Officer. I responded to Dunkin Donuts along with Officer Pavao, Detective Pulli, Lieutenant [Michael] Holland, and several Cambridge Officers.”
Officer Haley said he immediately recognized the suspect – later identified as Wakell Steele – from the photos provided by the witness. The descriptions also matched, because Steele was still donning a green hooded jacket, blue jeans and red shoes.
According to police, Steele, 23, is a resident of 25 Highland Avenue in Somerville.
“A query into CJIS [Criminal Justice Information System] revealed that Mr. Steele also had three active warrants for his arrest,” Officer Haley said.
Steele was placed under arrest for the three active warrants, he was also charged with unarmed robbery, defacing property, and assault with a dangerous weapon (for throwing a bottle of liquor at the witness).