Firefighter charged in bank robbery

A Framingham firefighter was arraigned Friday on charges he robbed a bank branch inside a Natick grocery store one day earlier.

The MetroWest Daily News reported that Michael Espinosa, 34, is accused of forcing a female bank teller to fill a brown paper bag with cash, then fleeing the scene in a sport utility vehicle.

The robbery occurred shortly after 11:10 a.m. at the Citizens Bank branch inside the Stop & Shop at at the 9/27 Plaza, located at 829 Worcester St.

A Natick police spokeswoman said yesterday the robber told a female bank teller he had a gun, but did not show one.

“He put a bag on the counter and told her to give him the money with no dye packs,” Lt. Cara Rossi said.

No one was injured during the episode, which forced authorities to issue a temporary shelter in place order at the nearby Bennett-Hemenway Elementary School on Evergreen Road.

Police described the robber as a white man in his 30s, about 5 feet, 10 inches tall. He was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt with a black T-shirt underneath, a black scally cap, black pants and black sneakers.

Security cameras caught the man getting into a dark-colored SUV — possibly a Jeep — that took off on Rte. 9.

Espinosa was then arrested about 11 hours later near his home at 41 Saint Lo Road in Framingham. Five Framingham police officers took Espinosa into custody at 10:01 p.m. Thursday in the area of 56 Arsenal Road on behalf of police in Natick, according to the police log.

Espinosa was arraigned late Friday morning on a single armed robbery charge. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. He was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on Nov. 16

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Espinosa was among 24 Framingham firefighters who were honored at a November 2015 ceremony at the State House for rescuing a woman who was trapped inside a vehicle submerged in a small pond. Brother and sister Brian Archila and Jennifer Archila died in the June 7, 2015 crash, which occurred on Gates Street near Framingham Country Club.

Rescuers arrived and heard the lone survivor calling for help. The woman was hypothermic, with her head in a small air pocket. Rescuers had to stabilize the two-door car and cut in through the trunk to free her. Espinosa assisted as one of six firefighters assigned to Dive Rescue 1.

Espinosa also appears to have served at least one tour of duty with the armed forces.

The town’s 2010 annual report lists a firefighter Michael Espinosa as being on a military deployment. The Daily News reported that year that Espinosa was one of several firefighters deployed overseas.

Espinosa earned close to $68,775 last year, according to the most recent salary figures released by the town.

A prosecutor said Friday that about $1,000 was stolen in the robbery. Espinosa allegedly admitted to carrying out the heist when he was interviewed by Natick police. He told authorities he had spent the money by the time he was arrested, according to a police report filed in court.