A pair of officers from the 114th Precinct caught a suspected bank robber in a midday chase through the Sunnyside Yards last Thursday, only a day after they caught red-handed two alleged shoplifters aboard Astorias elevated subway.
The three collars in a nearly 24-hour span represented a banner two days for Peter Hatzoglou, 28, and Stephen Talento, 27, who have been partners ever since they arrived at the 114th Precinct as rookies in October 2001.
Its a good 24 hours, Hatzoglou said.
The pair had been assigned to patrol the Queensboro Bridge last Thursday when a call came over around 10:55 a.m. that an armed robber had flashed a package that looked like a bomb as he stole $300 from the HSBC Bank at 51-20 Northern Blvd. in Woodside.
The officers originally planned to stay close to the bridge because normally if they flee, theyll try to go into another borough, Hatzoglou said.
But when a second call told them the man had fled on foot toward the Sunnyside Yards, they drove up Northern Boulevard to a driveway that slopes down into the train yards from the 39th Street Bridge.
Halfway down the ramp they saw two other officers from the 114th Precinct, Steve Lake and Christopher Meadows, gesturing toward some brush as they ran toward them from the other side of the yards. Hatzoglou and Talento continued down to the bottom of the ramp, but they did not have to look around for long.
The suspect jumped out in front of us, Hatzoglou said.
He kind of ran down the embankment and cut in front of us, Talento said.
Believing the perp had a gun, the officers ditched their car which made them more vulnerable to gunfire since they could not draw their own guns while seated and chased him down by foot through the train yards.
I drew my firearm. I said, Police, dont move, get down, get down, Hatzoglou recalled. It looked like he was going to continue to run, but then he realized he was trapped. He went down, face first.
They soon handcuffed Michael Harris, 35, of 4-24 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria, who was charged with robbery, police said.
I couldnt get the cuffs on the guy quick enough, said Talento, who thought Harris might have been clutching a gun on his hip as they chased him down. In the end, they found he was unarmed at the time of his arrest.
The suspected bomb turned out to be some flares wrapped in orange tape, which the bomb squad deemed to be safe, police said.
The Sunnyside Yards chase came only about 24 hours after the duo had caught another two burglary suspects in Astoria on the subway.
Astoria roommates Peter McEwan, 45, and Ralph Tricoche, 43, had allegedly shoplifted $700 worth of cosmetics and other merchandise from the Genovese drug store on 30th Avenue around 10:30 a.m. May 14 and fled toward the subway, police said.
The officers were driving around on patrol when a nearby liquor store employee flagged them down, sending them running into the 30th Avenue subway station in an attempt to catch the suspected thieves.
We went running up the train had just pulled away, Talento said.
So the officers asked a dispatcher to call the subway operator, who stalled the train two stations down at 36th Avenue without opening the doors trapping the suspects inside.
Hatzoglou and Talento started on one end of the train with a witness, and four other officers combed through the cars from the other end until they came across the two men, still clutching their bags full of merchandise.
It turns out both men boasted lengthy rap sheets: McEwan had eight prior arrests while Tricoche had four, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Both men were arraigned last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Pauline Mullings on charges of petty larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, the spokeswoman said.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2003 Community News Group
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