An 18-year-old Peekskill man robbed a 29-year-old Cortlandt woman and punched her in the face when she was trying to wire more than $1800 to her family in Ecuador yesterday afternoon, police said. Thanks to the help of four good Samaritans who fought him and chased after him, caught the man and arrested him for assault and robbery.
The woman was in Dariedades Ecaumundo at 6 Bank Street around 2:25 p.m. Tuesday, when the suspect waited for her to take out the $1800 in cash she intended to wire to her family abroad. As the man grabbed the money out of her hand, she turned around and the two ended up in an altercation on the ground, which spilled out onto the sidewalk, Detective Sergeant Raymond Henderlong said. The suspect, learned to be Gilbert Perez, punched the woman in the face as the two were struggling outside of the store.
From there, witnesses, three students and an investigator that works in the Workman's Compensation building, attempted to help the victim. There is confusion on exactly what happened next, but the group chased Perez to the Center Diner and at some point he broke free of the group, losing his shirt and jacket, according to Police Lietenant Eric Johansen.
Perez dropped the money, at the group's demand, before fleeing again. As some of the witnesses who came to the victim's rescue went and returned the cash to the woman, the Workman's Comp investigator chased Perez through downtown Peekskill.
He chased the suspect through a parking lot and down an alleyway across Main street onto N. James Street. As he was pursuing the suspect, the investigator called 911 to provide police with directions on which direction they were headed.
Lt. Johansen established a perimeter and apprehended Perez, who was found hiding in the backyard of 1 Puglsy Park.
"They should all be commended for their actions," Johansen said of the helpful locals, after explaining that the police department does not recommend that citizens intervene in potentially dangerous situations. "It really shows people of this community will not stand for criminal activity, and especially not to the extent they witnessed."
The victim was taken to police headquarters where she was treated by Emergency Service Technicians.
Perez is charged with second degree robbery, a Class C Felony, and second degree assault, a Class D felony. He was arraigned and remanded without bail to the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla, New York. He is scheduled to appear in the City of Peekskill Court on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m.
*Editor's Note: This article has been expanded from its original version according to first hand accounts and more detailed information from the police.