CINCINNATI -- A crack cocaine habit may be behind a holiday weekend robbery spree, Cincinnati police said.
Timothy Cottingham, 41, of Evanston, is charged with four counts of robbery, among other crimes.
He was an assistant basketball coach at Withrow High School, but Cincinnati Public Schools removed him from his job Monday pending an investigation, a district spokeswoman said.
In court records, Cincinnati police allege Cottingham snatched registers from three establishments: a Subway restaurant at 3008 Madison Road in Oakley on Dec. 30, a Marco’s Pizza restaurant at 4004 Edwards Road in Hyde Park on Dec. 31, and the Delta Snack Shack at 430 Delta Ave. in Columbia-Tusculum on Jan. 1.
"The damage that he did to the property of the businesses far exceeded the amount that was in the register that he got," Cincinnati Police Detective Charles Zopfi said.
At Delta Snack Shack, Les Sturgill said the robber "ripped all the wiring out and stuck it under his arm like a football and went running away with it."
Sturgill said he was waiting on a young woman when the robber charged into the store wearing a hoodie, mask, black coat and black gloves.
"He was a violent, angry person came through that door," Sturgill said.
Sturgill got a license plate number, which police said they used to link Cottingham to the three Cincinnati robberies, as well as a Speedway station robbery in Norwood Jan. 1.
Cincinnati police caught Cottingham during a traffic stop in Clifton; Zopfi said he threw a crack pipe and crack cocaine out of the vehicle. He told police he had an issue when they stopped him, Zopfi said.
"I think that that drove his reasons to actually commit these one right after the other. I think it was a way of getting cash very quickly to basically feed a possible habit," Zopfi said
Cottingham's other charges include drug abuse, falsification, possession of illegal drug paraphernalia and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
At a court hearing Monday, Cottingham's attorney said his client suffered from acute depression and was having a mental health issue when he's alleged to have committed the crimes.
He coached at Withrow for two seasons; his only job with Cincinnati Public Schools was as assistant coach, district spokeswoman Janet Walsh said.
Cottingham cleared a criminal background check when CPS hired him, Walsh said.