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Family thanks cops in home invasion case

By midmorning Tuesday, Nassau County police were still

By midmorning Tuesday, Nassau County police were still at the scene of shooting on Dana Avenue in Valley Stream. One suspect is dead and another under arrest in the shootout that began as a home invasion late Monday. (Jan. 17, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A grateful relative thanked police Tuesday for rescuing six family members tied up in a home invasion robbery that turned into a gun battle with a suspect who ultimately killed himself.

"Thank you for them. They're great. They did a good job," Dilbag Singh, a cousin, said Tuesday.

A Fifth Precinct officer, responding to a 911 call Monday night, had peered through the window, saw the bound family and broke down a door to get them out. When he returned, soon followed by backup officers, gunfire erupted and, police said, the suspect shot himself to death.

Tuesday, that suspect was identified by police as Timothy Capers, 36, of 139-29 Glassboro Ave., Queens.

Police also charged a second suspect arrested at the home Monday. Levy Robinson, 47, of 109-89 142nd St. in Jamaica, was accused of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree burglary and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He will be arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead Wednesday.

Criminal records indicate Capers was arrested in Queens in 1994 on multiple charges, including robbery, attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon and assault. He pleaded guilty to robbery and a weapons charge, according to records, and was sentenced to 3 to 6 years. He was released on parole in January 1999 after serving about 3 years.

Police praised the actions of the first cop on the scene. "Just unbelievable actions on the part of the first officer," said Nassau police spokesman Deputy Insp. Kenneth Lack. The officer's name wasn't made public.

The family who lives at the home -- near Dana Avenue and Howell Road -- includes grandparents, two adult sons, their wives and each of the sons' two children. Police have not released their names.

They operate a cash-heavy business, which the family said includes liquor stores. The men were apparently there to steal money kept in the home, police said.

The violence began shortly after 9 p.m. when one of the adult sons returned home and pulled into the driveway, police said. The vehicle's headlamps illuminated a man lurking in the darkness. Trying to scare the man away, the son honked the horn. But the man instead forced him at gunpoint into the home, police said.

The son had been on the phone with his brother in the driveway and told him what was happening, said Det. Lt. John Azzata, head of the Nassau police homicide squad. "He said, 'There's a problem here,' and the phone went dead." The brother called 911, Azzata said.

The man let in at least one accomplice. They tied up several family members, including an 11-year-old boy, police said. Three younger children weren't bound, police said.

The officer peered into a window, saw the tied-up son gesture toward suspects, knocked down the door and evacuated the family, police said.

When the officer returned, the gun battle ensued, police said. Backup officers stormed the house and amid the gunfire, the suspect shot himself, police said.

Police said earlier in the day that there were suspects still at large but later the department wouldn't comment about that.

Lack said police were still looking into who fired first in the initial encounter. Regardless, he said, the gunman was armed, brandishing the gun and police "faced an imminent threat of death and took appropriate police action."

Reached last night, Robinson's mother, who did not want to be identified, said her son told her only that there had been a robbery. "He can't afford an attorney," she said, adding she intends to be in court to support him. She said he works in a kitchen at St. John's University and as a cook at private parties. "I don't know what happened. . . . I just feel that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

With Bill Mason

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