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Two charged in connection with stabbing of pizzeria owners

Queens pizzeria owner Charlie Suljovic, and his son, are being praised for their efforts to help thwart the attack of a 61-year-old woman outside their Elmhurst business last March.

Having overheard calls for help, the two storeowners rushed to assist the victim who was being mugged. In the struggle, both men were stabbed multiple times for trying to assist the woman in distress.

Now, nearly two months since the incident occured, two men have been indicted on charges of attempted murder in connection with the attack.

Supreme Gooding, 18, and Robert Whack, 30, were arraigned on Monday, June 13, by Queens Supreme Court Justice David Kirschner. If convicted, both men could face up to 25 years in prison.

The 17-count indictement made by the Office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz included charges of assault, robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, grand larceny, and criminal possession of stolen property.

One of the defendants, Whack, also faces an additional charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, as police allegedly recovered 39 glassine envelopes of heroin from his jacket pocket.

The first of the two incidents occurred at about 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16, when, according to the charges, a 75-year-old woman was entering her apartment building on 64th Street and felt her cane and purse being snatched away from her. Video surveillance observed the defendants allegedly running down the block in possession of the stolen purse.

Another incident took place on Saturday, March 26, at approximately 8:45 p.m., when one of the suspects grabbed the purse of a 61-year-old woman, who was walking on Baxter Avenue and Judge Street.

According to Katz, the 68-year-old pizzeria owner, Suljovic, and his 38-year-old son, Louie, overheard calls for help from bystanders and ran to assist the victim. Suljovic and his son were both stabbed in the struggle.

Suljovic sustained nine stab wounds to the chest and back, while suffering from a collapsed lung. His son also sustained a collapsed lung and a stab wound to his back, according to the charges. The 61-year-old victim also sustained a single stab wound to the back.

Police apprehended the suspects a short distance from away from the scene, not long after they had fled. Katz added that investigators allegedly recovered a knife from the jacket pocket of Whack, which also appeared to have blood on it.

“As alleged, the defendants targeted two women to steal their handbags and stabbed two Good Samaritans who selflessly intervened during one of the incidents,” Katz said. “Thankfully, no lives were lost, but we will not allow senseless violence to become the norm in our communities. Both defendants now face serious charges for their alleged actions.”

The father and son who selflessly rushed in to help an innocent victim in distress, outside of their restaurant at 8134 Baxter Avenue, were presented with a Congressional Proclamation from U.S. Rep. Grace Meng in April for their bravery.

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