Just after running down two Suffolk County police officers, leaving one critically injured, two fleeing suspects stopped to buy a television set with a stolen credit card, but were arrested when they lingered to trade it in for a bigger set, according to officials.
The driver of the 2014 Ford Explorer that authorities said ran down the officers, Chad Morizsan, 34, was ordered held on bail of more than $3 million Tuesday. The second man, Nicholas Franzone, 22, was ordered held on $150,000 cash bail. Both gave a home address of 1 Ridings Gate in East Northport.
Police Officer Nicholas Guerrero, 36, of the Second Precinct Crime Section remained in critical but stable condition with severe head injuries in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at Stony Brook University Hospital. He underwent a "neurosurgical procedure" Tuesday, Nassau police said. His partner, Heriberto Lugo, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Both officers were in plainclothes -- but wearing police vests and displaying their police shields -- when they pulled the Explorer over about 1:30 p.m. Monday on Partridge Lane in Huntington.
Suffolk District Attorney Thomas J. Spota Tuesday revealed for the first time that uniformed officers in a patrol car had initially spotted the Explorer, identifying it as a stolen vehicle, then requested assistance. Police did not mention the uniformed officers Monday, saying the plainclothes officers stopped the car because Morizsan had an outstanding arrest warrant against him.
Tuesday, more than 100 police officers, including the Suffolk County police commissioner, crowded into a courtroom in First District Court in Central Islip to watch the arraignment of the two men before Judge Paul Hensley. Spota sat at the prosecutor's table.
Morizsan was charged with crimes including assault on a police officer and leaving the scene of an incident that caused serious physical injury. Franzone was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Spota said a grand jury might upgrade the charges.
Prosecutors said after the Explorer ran over the officers, the suspects went to a gas station but pulled away without paying, crashing into another vehicle as they left. They then hijacked a 2005 Toyota Camry in Commack after throwing its 87-year-old owner to the ground and robbing her, and went shopping at the Target in Central Islip.
"What they do is they go into the Target store and they buy a TV using the woman's stolen credit card," Spota said outside court. "But are they satisfied with that? No. They decide the TV is too small so they go and they try and exchange the TV for another TV. Luckily the police interceded and ultimately these two individuals were arrested."
Spota said there was also a woman in the Explorer, identified in court papers only as Nicole. Franzone told police she was Morizsan's girlfriend, according to court documents.
Both men have prior arrests for petty larceny, forgery and vehicle infractions. Morizsan had open warrants for probation violation and petty larceny.