LAWRENCE (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – Three masked men burst into a Lawrence convenience store with machine guns, and now, they're facing a slew of charges.
Police believe the trio is responsible for a string of other armed robberies and their arrests are a disappointment for city officials who say the suspects were part of a federal program for troubled youth.
This is an $800,000 grant program from the state approved by the governor, and when you learn this program is cutting checks to three men that are suspects in at least seven armed robberies, you question whether the system is really working.
The most recent charges stem from this surveillance video of a convenience store in Lawrence, where three men barricaded themselves inside after robbing it. Initially, police thought it was a hostage situation, but the clerk was later found hiding in a freezer.
Those three suspects, 19-year old Michael Alicea, and 18-year-olds Richard Mora, and Ruben Saldana were working in Lawrence at the Department of Public Works.
All three were participating in the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative Program, which according to the state, employs those "at high risk for becoming perpetrators or victims of gun violence."
And the man that placed the trio in their positions at the DPW emotional learning the men are suspects in multiple armed robberies.
Officials say most of the people in the Lawrence program have criminal backgrounds or gang affiliations, and many of the 80 people involved in the program in Lawrence are employed in city jobs.
The three were paid between $8 and $10 an hour while working at the DPW. They face kidnapping, robbery, and firearms charges. They'll be arraigned in Lawrence District Court Tuesday.