Two Front Royal men accused of attempted robbery
By Joe Beck
Two Front Royal men made initial court appearances Wednesday following their arrests stemming from an armed robbery in the town’s gazebo area on Sept. 25.
Matthew Tyler Berkowitz, 20, of 58 E. Criser Road, and Cody Allen Smallwood, 21, of 122B E. 4th St., were ordered held without bond by General District Judge W. Dale Houff.
The criminal complaint against both men states they approached the victim, Andrew MacMillan, at the corner of Chester and Main streets in front of Main Street Pawn.
The complaint, written by Detective Crystal Cline, states that Berkowitz told MacMillan to take a walk with him. The three men walked across the gazebo area through the adjacent parking lot.
MacMillan stopped walking and told Berkowitz he didn’t want to go any further after they reached Laura Virginia Hale Street, according to the complaint. Berkowitz then lifted the front of Smallwood’s shirt to reveal a black handgun, Cline wrote.
The complaint states that Smallwood told Macmillan to keep walking, but MacMillan again refused. Berkowitz grabbed the handgun out of Smallwood’s waistband and ordered MacMillan to walk, according to the complaint.
MacMillan complied with Berkowitz, then emptied his pockets and told the other two men he wasn’t carrying anything of value, the complaint states. Berkowitz looked through the wallet and handed it back to MacMillan and handed the gun back to Smallwood, the complaint states.
Berkowitz told police after his arrest that the gun involved was a BB gun, the complaint states.
Berkowitz and Smallwood are both charged with attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit a robbery, abduction and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Their next court dates are scheduled for Nov. 6.
Berkowitz is also facing two drug-related charges, one for distribution of heroin and one for distribution of imitation heroin. Court documents date the heroin distribution offense from July 23 and the distribution of imitation heroin from July 30. In both instances, a confidential police informant made purchases of heroin and imitation heroin from Berkowitz, according to the criminal complaint.
Cline said in an interview Wednesday that she believes the attempted robbery was motivated by a need for money to purchase drugs.
“I think they’re definitely drug-related,” Cline said of the robbery charges. “It comes down to needing a fix.”
Cline said Smallwood was arrested Friday at his residence without incident. No information was available on Berkowitz’s arrest.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org