Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Quick thinking clerk is heroine of robbery at smoke shop

Police make arrest later that evening
Storefront of Papi’s Secret Stash, whose owners spoke at the council meeting. (Photo credit Peekskill Herald, August 2023)

The gutsy actions of a clerk during an armed robbery led to tighter security at a Peekskill marijuana store last week. In the wake of the August 9 robbery at Papi’s Secret Stash, Eric Sanchez hired a guard and is installing a buzzer system to get into his business at 1014 Main Street between RameNesque restaurant and Persephone’s Pearl.

The 39-year-old owner of the shop that sells cannabis and accessories said he realized those measures were necessary after the robbery when his female clerk tussled with the robber who brandished a knife. The 37-year-old clerk, who requested that her name not be published, spoke with the Herald two days after the incident.

“It wasn’t like what you see in the movies, he didn’t have a knife at my face,” said the woman.

Eric Sanchez at the counter of his shop on Main Street. The black curtain in the background separates the front of the shop from the rear two rooms. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

Police arrested Pedro Cabral, 37, of Peekskill a short time later according to Lt. Adam Renwick of the Peekskill police department. Cabral was arrested at a residence he is known to frequent, said Renwick. Cabral was held overnight at the Peekskill police station and was arraigned in Peekskill City Court the next day where he was charged with robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree, criminal mischief in the third degree and criminal possession in the third degree. He was remanded to Westchester County Jail and is due back in Peekskill Court on Thursday, August 24 at 11 a.m. where he will be represented by Legal Aid of Westchester.

Westchester County Police’s K9 and Emergency Service Unit responded with Peekskill police on Wednesday, August 9 to Main Street. (Photo by Jim Striebich)

Papi’s Secret Stash, which opened in October, is selling marijuana grown at Sanchez’ farm in Holmes, NY along with paraphernalia such as apparel, artwork, ash trays, torches and glass pieces. The business is open until 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. The night of the robbery, Sanchez’ clerk, who was alone in the store, said a customer came in and asked to see certain product. She left the counter to go to the back where it’s stored and returned with the product in hand.

The area inside the 500 square foot space where customers can sit and inspect cannabis they want to purchase. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

She said he was smelling the product as another person walked in and asked if anyone spoke Spanish. The customer acknowledged that he spoke Spanish and began translating for the person who was asking if the store did pick up and delivery. When the clerk explained that the shop wasn’t a UPS or post office, the person left. The clerk thanked the customer for translating and said she didn’t realize he spoke Spanish. He said he was from the Dominican Republic. He then asked to see cheaper weed, she said.

She went to the back of the store, which is separated from the front of the shop by a large black curtain, and she realized he followed her there. He showed her a knife he had in his hand. He pointed a basic kitchen knife to a reusable LaPlacita bag that he held in his other hand. “I was stunned,” said the clerk. “Give me all the weed,” he told her two times.

The clerk, who was wearing glasses and is 4’11” said the customer was about 6’1”. He put his hand over her mouth and pushed her to the ground. ‘I’m on the floor in the area where we store the weed and I see that he is stuffing marijuana into his bag.”  She ran out and hit the silent alarm in the front of the shop that connects to the police department. The area also houses a shotgun.

She grabbed the shotgun, not intending to shoot it, and headed to the small area behind the curtain in front of where the weed was stored. She had the shotgun in her hand and told him to get out of the store. “You’re gonna shoot me?” he said to her. They got into a tussle and she was knocked to the ground where her glasses fell off. Once she was on the ground, he went back to the area where the weed is stored.  “I ran out the front door screaming for someone to call 911 and went into RameNesque.”

Once inside RameNesque, the clerk remembered she had the keys to the store in her pocket and ran back to lock the door. She returned to the entryway of RameNesque and within ten to 15 seconds heard glass breaking.  Shortly after that the police arrived and she told them she wasn’t sure if he was inside or not. They sent a smoke bomb into the store and ascertained that he was not in the building.


View from inside Papi’s looking out onto Main and Bank streets. The glass on the bottom of the door was broken on Wednesday night. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

In speaking to the Herald a few days after the incident she said she ‘felt so violated,” and that’s why she picked up the shotgun, “Maybe I could scare him away,” she said she thought, noting her small size compared to him. “I did what I could.”

The entire exchange took place within ten minutes. After a day off she was back at the shop working her shift, but this time with a security guard and a buzzer installed at the front.







About the Contributor
Regina Clarkin
Regina Clarkin, Editor and Publisher
When the Peekskill Herald weekly newspaper ceased publishing in August 2000 it was the first time in the history of the city that there wasn’t a local newspaper.  The award-winning weekly was often referred to as the ‘glue’ of the community. Founded on January 9, 1986 by Regina Clarkin, Kathy Daley and Rich Zahradnik with a $7,000 credit card line, the paper filled the void created when the daily Evening Star was sold to Gannett and moved out of town. Founding publisher Regina Clarkin continued to live in the Peekskill Cortlandt area and turned her attention to other life endeavors.  Through the ensuing 19 years, Clarkin was frequently stopped in town and asked when she would start up the Herald again. In January 2019, Clarkin decided it was less labor intensive to deliver a weekly blog than a print newspaper so she began posting one story a week about life in Peekskill. After a successful crowd funding campaign in 2020, the Herald was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in July of 2021. Peekskill Herald is a digital relative of the former print edition, featuring many of the favorite aspects of the beloved Peekskill Herald such as old pictures, personality profiles and well written stories about newsworthy events. Regina Clarkin is the editor and publisher of the site. Photo by Joe Squillante