Two Concord teens charged in armed robbery of Bhutanese immigrants
Two Concord teens with criminal pasts have each been charged with eight felonies two weeks after they allegedly held a group of Bhutanese immigrants at knifepoint outside their East Side Drive apartment complex.
Tyler Burley and Brett Reno, both 19, were taken into custody Friday and arraigned late yesterday morning in Concord’s district court. They’re accused of having threatened the group outside the complex, where they also live, shortly after midnight Oct. 13.
The police said three of the four victims had been returning from a Dumpster when Burley and Reno stopped them and said, “Give us $20 or we will kill you guys.” Burley, the taller of the two, allegedly brandished a knife and pointed it toward the group. When they refused to hand over any cash, Reno slapped one of them in the face, they told officers.
One of the victims’ brothers noticed the exchange from inside their apartment, joined the group and tried reasoning with Reno, whom he said he knew from Concord High School, according to the police.
Reno and Burley refused to back down, however, and as the brother continued his mediation, Burley punched him in the mouth, slicing open his lip, according to a police affidavit.
The victims then reportedly fled the scene, running to one of their cars and driving to a friend’s house, where they phoned 911.
Detectives later questioned Reno and Burley separately about the incident, and they heard conflicting stories, according to the affidavit: Reno said he’d been at home and asleep all night; Burley said he’d been with Reno and the two had gone outside, briefly, to smoke cigarettes.
The police believe the victims were targeted because of their national origin and the suspects’ assumption that they would not report the robbery. Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said the victims are of Bhutanese heritage and spent time in Nepalese refugee camps before arriving in the United States; Nepalese is their first language, he said.
Burley and Reno have each been charged with four felony counts of conspiracy to commit robbery and a misdemeanor of simple assault. Burley has also been charged with four felony counts of armed robbery and a misdemeanor of criminal mischief for allegedly damaging a taillight on the victims’ car as it sped away. Reno faces four separate felony counts of criminal liability, as well as a violation of underage intoxication at the time of the holdup.
Burley has been held on $20,000 cash bail, while Reno has been held on $18,000 cash bail, as well as $2,000 personal recognizance bail for the misdemeanor charge. Both are restricted from contacting one another or stepping within 100 yards of the alleged victims.
They are each scheduled for a Nov. 7 probable cause hearing.
Both suspects have criminal records. In late 2011, Burley was arrested in the stabbing of a 24-year-old man after the man allegedly pepper-sprayed Burley and an acquaintance who had made a pass at the man’s girlfriend. Under a negotiated plea, Burley pleaded guilty to a felony count of rioting and was sentenced to 31∕2 to seven years in state prison with all but the 156 days he’d already served suspended upon good behavior.
Reno was arrested last year on charges that alleged he sliced a woman’s finger with a knife during a dispute at his mother’s home. He was sentenced to 90 days suspended for criminal mischief.
During their video arraignments yesterday, Reno’s mother, Wendy, pleaded with Judge Gerard Boyle to release her son on personal recognizance bail so he wouldn’t lose his job. She said he had been working for about three months at the Market Basket on Fort Eddy Road, and he had been striving to “turn his life around.”
“I just don’t want to see him spiral back down when he’s trying real hard to pull himself up,” she said, adding that he has a 9-month-old baby and has been seeing her regularly.
Wendy Reno requested a similar release during Burley’s arraignment, saying she had essentially adopted him and that both have been living with her at her East Side Drive apartment.
“I just don’t want to see them both stay in jail and possibly learn more bad behaviors from other people who have done worse,” she said.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)