Man facing 10 years for robbery

WATERBURY — A city man who claimed to be a “hard-core thug” will be sentenced to a decade in prison for holding a gun to the head of a woman during a robbery near a Naugatuck supermarket.

Michael Lopez is also suspected of pointing a gun at an off-duty police officer soon after the robbery of two Big Y employees who were leaving work. The holdup prompted police to increase patrols, including officers on foot, in the area near the supermarket.

Lopez, 31, had faced a dozen charges, but pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree robbery as part of a plea deal that calls for a 10-year term.

Lopez, who has a criminal record in New York that includes robbery and assault, answered only routine questions during a brief hearing in Waterbury Superior Court.

Lopez is believed to have pulled up to the supermarket parking lot on Bridge Street in a maroon Chrysler while the employees were trying to reach their cars in September 2014. He put a gun to a woman’s head during the holdup while claiming that he was a gangster, a witness told police. He also told them he was a “hard-core thug.”

He made off with cash from the employees, but rejected a bag of groceries and a debit card when they tried to hand it to him. The victims were allowed to leave and called police.

About a half-hour later, an off-duty Naugatuck police officer noticed a man matching Lopez’s description fixing a flat tire on a Chrysler at the Express Mart gas station on Route 63 near Porter Avenue, police said.

The officer then pretended to help the man with the tire in order to gather more information about him, but Lopez pointed a gun at the officer, who was dressed in street clothes, and told him, “I’m fine,” according to police.

Other officers arrived to help take Lopez into custody and found a black BB gun that resembled a 9 mm pistol on the front seat.

State’s Attorney Maureen Platt said the woman who was robbed wanted Lopez to get at least a 10-year sentence. He’s due to be sentenced March 2.