When a robber showed up wielding a knife and demanding money at the Dairy Plus Express 2 store on Meadow Avenue one recent weeknight, he was given a dose of old-school justice.
“He hit him with a broom,” said Joseph Minuta, who happened to be at the deli when the robber walked into the store on Thursday, Nov. 2.
It was about 6:50 p.m. when Minuta sat inside the store, reading a newspaper while he waited for his car to be fixed at Mavis Discount Tire. “A guy came in, fully covered, with gloves, mask and a hat,” Minuta recalled. “He had steak knife.”
Store owner Khalid Mahmood was standing at the cash register. “I want all your money,” the robber told him, explained Mahmood’s wife, who did not want to provide her name on Monday. “He said, ‘No, you’re not getting my money. Get the (expletive) out of here.”
It was at that instant when Mahmood’s friend and coworker sprung into action, hitting the would-be thief with a large broom he happened to be pushing nearby. Store footage shows the robber then bolted for the door while being chased by the 64-year-old, who threw the broom at him as he ran away.
Mahmood grabbed another broom and chased the bandit on foot, pursuing him as far as Route 300. Minuta called the police. A customer followed the robber in her car as he crossed Route 300 to head onto Meadow Hill Road. She was able to provide police with details on his whereabouts.
The man was apprehended about 10 minutes later by Town of Newburgh Police.
“An officer came across him walking in the area several blocks away,” said Town of Newburgh Police Chief Bruce Campbell. “He was able to apprehend him.”
Minuta was particularly impressed with the Town of Newburgh Police Department’s response. Within minutes five cop cars arrived at the scene, including K-9 units and detectives.
“The Town of Newburgh were amazing how quick they came onto the site,” Minuta said. “It was like a swat team; they came in and took over the entire thing, and found the guy within minutes.”
Cinque Figueroa, 39, of the Town of Newburgh, was charged with first-degree attempted robbery, attempted larceny and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He was sent to Orange County Jail on $35,000 cash bail or $70,000 bond.
“Thank God no one was hurt,” said Minuta, who was busy campaigning for a seat on the Orange County Legislature that week. “They were there very fast, within minutes,” said Mahmood’s wife, praising town police. “If it was not for that customer and Joe…” she said of Minuta and the customer whose name she did not recall who followed Figueroa in her car.
“For as horrific an event as it was, it was just a community effort. It was an astounding thing,” Minuta said. “We got to keep our community safe,”
The attempted robbery occurred about a week after a gunpoint robbery at the Medical Arts Pharmacy on North Plank Road. Campbell said the thief stole oxycodone and a small amount of cash. The robbery is still being investigated, he said.
By SHANTAL RILEY
Lauren Berg contributed to this story