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Carvel manager fights would-be robber in failed attempt, cops say

Suffolk police respond on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017

Suffolk police respond on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 to a call at the Carvel Ice Cream Store on Veterans Memorial Highway in Ronkonkoma after, they said, a gunman entered the store and struggled with the woman working there before fleeing in a pickup truck. Credit: Stringer News Service

An employee at a Ronkonkoma Carvel store refused to cooperate with a gunman who ordered her to hand over money Friday, Suffolk police said.

The robber showed a black handgun as he accosted the worker at the Veterans Memorial Highway store at about 11:25 a.m., then drove off in a dark-colored pickup truck without getting anything, police said.

“When I saw the gun, I realized . . . it looked like a toy,” said store manager Esther Lin, who was the lone worker at the time. “He said ‘I need the money.’ ”

Lin said she told him she had just opened and there was no money and as she rushed out of the store with her cellphone in her hand, the would-be robber dashed out at the same time, starting a struggle for her cellphone.

“No, no,” Lin recalled shouting at him.

Neither of them said much and neither tried to strike the other in the struggle that ended just before the pizzeria worker next door saw her, Lin said.

The suspect hopped into a pickup truck that was parked right by the Carvel, the store manager said.

She tried to take a photograph of the vehicle, but her nerves got in the way of unlocking the phone, Lin said. When she looked for his vehicle plate number, she saw it was covered by a white material.

Lin was too distraught to say anything more than “Call the police” to the pizzeria worker, she said.

It was only afterward that she saw her hand was bleeding a little from the fight with the gunman, an injury she said was minor.

The gunman, who appeared to be in his 30s, had his sweater hiding much of his face when he entered the store, but Lin said she didn’t think it was unusual because it was cold outside.

Hours later, the woman who fought off a gunman was still working at the store Friday night.

“After the police came,” Lin said, “I felt OK.”

Fifth Precinct detectives are investigating the attempted robbery and ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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