Customer helps foil store heist
Philadelphia Daily News ^ | Mon, Jul. 17, 2006 | KITTY CAPARELLA & REGINA MEDINA
There's no shortage of heroes in Gomez Grocery in East Germantown.
Yesterday about 12:15 p.m., a tall, 190-pound gunman walked in and announced: "This is a stickup!"
With 15 customers inside, the 23-year-old gunslinger locked the door of the store on Walnut Lane near Baynton Street, said Det. Curtis Matthews, of Northwest Detectives.
"The man turned around and you could see his gun, pointing at the [customers,]" said a 15-year-old customer, who was buying a smoked turkey sandwich, but didn't want to give her name.
"I got down and started shaking real hard," she added.
The gunman jumped on the freezer next to the cash register and pointed the gun at store owner Eddie Gomez, who was behind the counter, she said.
A quick-thinking patron, Thomas Santana, 66, then grabbed the gunman around his legs from behind - in a "bear hug" - as he stood on the freezer with his back to the customers, said Matthews.
Gomez came from behind the counter and helped Santana, 5-foot-4, wrestle the 6-foot-1 gunman to the floor, said Matthews.
Startled, the gunman fired two wild shots, shooting himself once in the head - the bullet entered and exited his head. Still, he wouldn't give up his gun, Matthews said.
So, Santana grabbed a nearby jar of Mott's applesauce off a shelf and slugged him four times in the head.
"Finally, the guy passes out," said Matthews. "There's blood everywhere - on the floor, all over." Meantime, the 15-year-old girl and her cousin had fled to the kitchen with another man and woman and closed the door. "I started crying and praying and stuff," the girl said.
Several minutes later, the girls peeked out the kitchen door and saw police. The shooter was being taken out the door on a stretcher.
The gunman, whose name was not released last night, was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center where he was in stable condition after being treated for head injuries.
He is expected to be charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, attempted robbery, reckless endangerment and weapons violations.