A man and a woman from Roosevelt have been accused of pulling off three armed robberies in 25 minutes at various businesses but were arrested after the accused gunman was beaten in a fourth store, a smoke shop where the owner said he was a regular customer.
Nassau police said Timothy Lang started his 6:06 p.m. spree Sunday, one day after his 32nd birthday, by stealing up to $1,800 from the Star Deli in Roosevelt, then shoving a semiautomatic handgun in the stomach of a man at the nearby US Petroleum gas station before repeatedly kicking a Hempstead Citgo gas station employee, knocking out three teeth and fleeing with $2,000.
In each hit police said his alleged accomplice, Kaphia LaRode, 24, waited in the getaway vehicle, a Ford Explorer.
But workers at the Selina Convenience Smoke Shop in Uniondale who turned the tables said they were fighting to stay alive when they pummeled the robber, put him in a chokehold and wrestled his gun away as police arrived.
At one point, cashier Ahmed Sharhan, 20, of Hempstead, ran to lock the front door: "He was saying, 'If I don't get out, my people are coming in.' "
Lang, of 64 Allers Blvd., and LaRode, of 129 Gromley Ave., were each arraigned Monday on four counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and four counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
The smoke shop's camera shows a gunman, his entire head wrapped in a white scarf, first walking behind the counter to confront Sharhan. When deli counter employee Teon Williams ordered the man to leave, he was hit in the forehead with the gun.
Telling himself to get over the pain before the robber shoots him, Williams, 28, of Roosevelt, shoved the man down the sandwich counter. As merchandise and shelves flew out, Williams put the gunman in a chokehold, while Sharhan grabbed his leg, the video shows.
After a brief respite, the fight continued toward the locked door -- where officers could only watch, the video shows.
"They were banging and screaming 'Somebody open the door,' " Williams recalled.
Meanwhile, police said, La-Rode was parked in the rear.
Shop owner Hammam Sharhan said he recognized Lang as the quiet customer who came weekly for a drink and a cigar.
Hours before the attack, Lang had been in the store asking for a dollar's worth of peppermint candy for a quarter, the owner said, and when the daytime clerk refused, Lang told him, "You're going to get it."
Lang, who was on parole after serving three years in prison for first-degree reckless endangerment, was held without bail and represented by Legal Aid, which does not comment on cases.
LaRode's bail was set at $800,000 bond or $400,000 cash. Her attorney, Stacy Eves of Rockville Centre, said her client plans to "vigorously" fight the charges.
The Citgo gas station attendant was treated at a hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries, police said.
According to the complaint filed against Lang, he told investigators he didn't care if his Citgo attack was caught on video and said the robbery wasn't even worth it. He called the $2,000 stolen there "just a couple of dollars," police said.
"You know they got video. I don't care," the complaint said Lang told police. "You can put that[expletive] on YouTube."