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Two arrested for allegedly robbing Girl Scouts, injuring leader in Northampton

The incident was captured by the North King Street store’s video surveillance system, which helped Northampton and Deerfield police identify Cassidy R. Michalski, 25, of 18 Hoosac Road, Deerfield, and his alleged accomplice Nicholas Taverna, 22, of 79 Devens St., Greenfield. Michalski was arrested at home Monday afternoon and Taverna was arrested at home Tuesday morning, said Northampton Police Capt. Scott Savino.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the incident, police are urging Girl Scouts and other organizations that hold similar fundraising events to be careful about how much cash they keep on hand. Savino advises groups to keep just enough money to make change.

Michalski and Taverna both pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Northampton District Court to charges of unarmed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and shoplifting over $100 by asportation.

They were both ordered held on $5,000 cash bail.

The pair told police they stole two cell phones while at the Northampton Wal-Mart earlier in the day Saturday, and then drove to Holyoke with the aim of trading the phones for drugs. When that idea failed, they devised another plan to go back to Wal-Mart, where they had seen the Girl Scouts selling cookies in the lobby, Savino said.

Michalski parked outside the entrance while Taverna went into the store and approached four Girl Scouts, ages 11 and 12, at a table where they were selling cookies. He struck up a conversation with one of the girls, then reached over the table and grabbed a metal box containing cash and fled, according to police.

The pair made off with $392, according to court files.

An adult from Chesterfield who was supervising the Girl Scouts pursued Taverna into the parking lot, where Taverna got into Michalski’s vehicle. The adult’s hand got stuck in a partially open window of Michalski’s vehicle and he suffered “substantial” injuries to his hands, face and arms after Michalski accelerated and dragged him across the parking lot before his hand came free.

Michalski told police he heard a thump a short time later, and he continued to drive. Police said the girls were not injured. The robbery occurred on the first weekend of the Girls Scouts’ annual cookie drive.

Like in most crimes, police say the more details people can provide officers about an incident, the better chance they have to catch someone. In the Girl Scout case, several witnesses were able to provide partial license plate numbers and a vehicle description. That information helped officers track down Michalski and Taverna, Savino said.

“The best thing for someone to do is to be a tremendous eye witness,” he said.

Michalski and Taverna will next appear in court on Feb. 22 for pretrial hearings.

The Community Crisis Response Team (CCRT) is so sorry to hear that 4 Girl Scouts were robbed of their cookie money and their leader assaulted over the weekend. We hope everyone is okay and that the money has been returned. We did want to let you know that we are here, in case you need support around this incident. For over 15 years, CCRT has provided free and confidential support to people affected by crime in the Pioneer Valley. Our services include individual and group support, both of which provide the opportunity to talk about what happened and learn about common reactions to stress and trauma and receive tips for self care. We also offer nurturing gifts, can lend materials from our library of resources on trauma and healing, and much more. If you are in need of support, please don't hesitate to contact us, 413-773-5090. View our website for more information, www.TakeTimeToHeal.org.

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