New York

Plainclothes NYPD Cops Stumble Upon Brooklyn Deli Owner Fighting Armed Robber Who Shot Him

The family who owns the deli were shocked to discover who was underneath the mask

An ambush gunpoint robbery inside a Brooklyn store ended with what the victims believe was an absolute miracle -- and the dramatic chain of events leading to the shocking unmasking of the suspect was all captured on video, obtained exclusively by News 4 New York. 

Deli owner Ahmed Kassem was closing his shop, Super Nice Deli, Friday night when suddenly an armed robber in an orange coat attacked him, video shows. 

Kassem, 59, is punched repeatedly in the face, and he tries to fight back. His son, hearing the commotion, rushes out from behind the counter and manage to strip the gun out of the masked man's hand. 

The robber goes down to the ground but continues fighting. Father and son have no idea, but the suspect has another gun hidden in his waistband. He shoots Ahmed in the stomach, the bullet just missing his vital organs. 

But Ahmed refuses to give up, and bleeding, tries to protect his son, fighting for their lives. 

A customer suddenly appears and hears the gunshot, and runs out to the street to flag down the first car that approaches, video shows. Inside the car just happens to be plainclothes NYPD officers with Brooklyn North's Anti-Crime team. 

Sgts. Greg Minardi and Michael Demonda and officers David Mercado and Joe Solomito run into the store, where the gunman and clerk are still fighting over the gun. They make the arrest, and get help for Ahmed. 

Less than 48 hours after the robbery, the same police team returned to the bodega to make sure everyone is OK.

"They were at the right place at the right time to arrest a very dangerous person," said Charles McEvoy of NYPD Brooklyn North.  

Ahmed Kassem's other son, Fawzi, was manning the store Monday and is still haunted by the video. He said he's watched it several times, and what most disturbs him is who he saw when police took the mask off the man. They recognized the shooter as a neighbor -- someone they've helped many times in the past. 

"My father, when they take the mask, he tell him, 'You serious, you did this to me? I treat you like my son,'" said Kassem.

Fawzi's brother was not hurt in the confrontation with the gunman; their father remains in the hospital and is expected to survive. 

Fawzi Kassem believes if it wasn't for those officers, there's a good chance his father and brother would not be alive. 

"If those police weren't here? Somebody get killed. One hundred percent," he said. "It was gonna be worse." 

"I really appreciate it. I really appreciate. They work hard," he said. 

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