Man charged in Portland grocery store robbery, kidnapping

WTNH/Noelle Gardner

PORTLAND, Conn. (WTNH) — Just before closing time Tuesday night police say Jayquan Swain entered Tri-Town Foods brandishing a gun and wearing a ski mask.

A good Samaritan waiting to pick up a family member dialed 911.

“It’s a pretty scary thing to happen in a small town like this,” said Phillip Visintainer.

“She reported a male, black mask, black gloves with a handgun walking into the store,” said Sgt. Scott Cunningham with the Portland Police Department.

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Once inside, police say 21-year-old Swain threatened five employees at gunpoint and demanded cash.

“All the money was gathered in front of the store. He walked them to the back threatening to shoot each one of them if any one of them called police department,” said Sgt. Cunningham.

Officers said Swain gathered up the employees forcing them to the back of the store.

“At that point, the officer saw the suspect guiding them to the back brandishing the handgun at their heads at their bodies. He could tell that they were nervous walk. He walked all the employees to the back of the store,” said Sgt. Cunningham.

With cash in hand, Swain made his getaway through the back door.

“He struggled when one of the Middletown officers tried to take him into custody. He began to battle them at that time and flare around trying to get up, trying to leave. He had to be tasered, at which time he was handcuffed immediately after,” said Sgt. Cunningham.

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Those who frequent Tri-Town Foods reacted to the news.

“It’s a pretty terrifying thing for that to happen and I would imagine young folks were in there closing up. They probably left a scar on them, I’m sure,” said Visintainer.

“It’s an alarming thing that right here in little Portland that something like that would happen,” said a woman who regularly shops there.

Police say the handgun was stolen out of Middletown. Luckily, there were no injuries to any of the hostages or any officers. Swain was charged with kidnapping, robbery and carrying a dangerous weapon among other charges. Swain is due back in court February 2. He is being held on a $75,000 bond.