2005-01-06 / Front Page



A liquor store on Flatlands Avenue had the distinction of starting out the new year by being robbed twice on New Year's Day. Two suspects were arrested in the first robbery, thanks to a quick-witted off-duty police officer. A knife-wielding suspect got away after the second robbery later that night.

In the first robbery, the Canarsie off-duty police officer quietly followed two suspects and helped capture them after they robbed the store on Flatlands Avenue near East 80th Street at gunpoint. In the second robbery, the thief got away, but not until the proprietor of the store and an employee soundly beat him on the head with a bottle.

The name of the off-duty officer, who works out of NYPD headquarters, was not released, but police officials singled him out for "displaying a high level of professionalism."

The officer told responding local police that when he tried to enter "Liquors" at 8005 Flatlands Avenue at about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, the door was locked but he saw two men inside, one of whom yelled to him that the store was closed. He said his suspicions were raised, so he hid nearby and saw the men come out of the store and head towards East 80th Street. A worker came out and told the officer that she and her employer had been robbed and called 911.

After determining neither the employee nor her boss were injured, the officer trailed the two suspects, saw them get into a white Chevrolet Malibu and noted the license plate number.

When he returned to the store, officers from the 69th Precinct were on the scene so he identified himself and provided them with details of the robbery.

The officers said the victims told them the suspects came into the store at about 4 p.m. and immediately asked how much money was kept there and where it was. One of the men displayed a handgun and told them to stay quiet as he removed about $500 from the cash register while the second man took two bottles of liquor from a shelf before they left.

The precinct's supervising officer, Lt. James Davolio, secured the crime scene and dispatched a description of the suspects, the car and the license plate number that was broadcast to other precincts and patrols.

At approximately 8:20 p.m., police from the 67th Precinct spied the suspects' Chevy with two men inside it on East 92nd Street in Brownsville, When they arrested the men, they found a gun matching the description of the one used in the liquor store robbery in the car.

Two hours later, 69th Precinct police received an emergency call that the same liquor store was being robbed again, this time by a lone man with a knife.

Police said one of the victims, a 65-year-old woman, told them a male black came into the store at about 10:25 p.m. brandishing a large kitchen knife and told her to move away from the cash register. When she refused, her husband, 75, jumped at the thief and, when the suspect pulled out a second knife, he grabbed a wine bottle and smashed it over the thief's head.

The robber was able to grab about $150 from the register before fleeing on foot east on Flatlands Avenue and north on East 81st Street.

Although they received minor lacerations from glass fragments, the victims refused medical treatment, police said.

It has not been determined if the two robberies are connected, but police are continuing their investigation, including asking hospitals citywide to be on the lookout for a man with possible head injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to call the 69th Precinct Detective Squad at (718) 257-6215 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls will be kept strictly confidential.

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