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Police: Bar patrons foil robbery, capture suspect

Holbrook Backporch bartender Kristi Reikert talks about being

Holbrook Backporch bartender Kristi Reikert talks about being robbed in Holbrook. (March 11, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

It wasn't your typical night, police said Monday, at Holbrooks Backporch, a neighborhood bar frequented by pool players -- especially on Sundays when games are free.

The evening was capped by an attempted robbery in which patrons and the owner subdued a knife-wielding man, police said.

Just before midnight, Suffolk police said, the robber, identified later as Joseph Spevak, 32, of Holbrook, walked behind the bar and demanded money from bartender Kristi Reikert, 32.

"I need all the money out of the register and make sure nobody knows," Reikert said Spevak, who covered his face with a half-face ski mask, told her. About a dozen patrons were in the bar at the time.

Reikert said in an interview Monday she told Spevak he could not be behind the bar, but he threatened her with three steak knives to the stomach. She took the cash from the register and handed it to Spevak, she said -- with patrons still unaware the bar was being robbed.

"We don't want problems. Go do what you gotta do," she told him.

As the robber walked away, Reikert sent a patron downstairs to tell bar owner Eric Glussich, 48, what had happened.

Then came "the funny part," Reikert said. Now back in front of the bar, Spevak turned and told her, "Oh, I need a Corona."

She opened the bottle slowly and asked if she could get him a lime.

When Glussich arrived, Reikert pointed out the robber. Glussich confronted him and he tried to run away, but the owner and several patrons grabbed him, removed the ski mask and held him until police arrived.

Police said they found several hundred dollars in his possession, as well as the knives.

Glussich, of Coram, said that Reikert, on the job at his bar just three months, did just as she was trained.

"Money can always come back," Glussich said. "People can't."

Spevak, of Coates Avenue, was charged with first-degree robbery and arraigned Monday in First District Court in Central Islip.

"It was a team effort," Reikert said of the outcome. "This is a family-oriented place and we are very connected."

With Gary Dymski

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