Bad things could have happened.
When three armed robbers split up as they left a Cottman Avenue bank on June 16, there were 10 cops from the Northeast’s 2nd District waiting for them outside.
All that blue didn’t stop them; they bolted. Suddenly, 10 officers were chasing three armed men down Northeast streets crowded with people in the early afternoon.
The cops chased their men past people coming out of the nearby health center, past groups of kids, and, in the process, not one shot was fired and nobody was hurt.
Capt. Michael McCarrick, the district commander, recently told members of the 2nd Police District Advisory Council he was proud of the officers for their collective effort to nab three dangerous criminals while remaining conscious of the safety of everyone on the street.
ldquo;This could have gone south quickly,” he said.
The officers, all present at the PDAC’S recent meeting at the Philadelphia Protestant Home, were honored as June’s Officers of the Month.
Mark Mroz, the district’s community relations officer, gave the details of the robbery and arrests.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on June 16, the three men, their faces obscured by black bandannas, entered the PNC bank at 2200 Cottman Ave. The branch is close to the city’s Health Center No. 10 and the Northeast Regional Library.
One of the bandits subdued an unarmed security guard and forced him to the floor. A second man ordered employees and customers to the floor at gunpoint. He kept them there while the other two robbers jumped over the tellers’ counter and started to put money in a white plastic bag.
The men were trying to get into the vault when electronic devices in the branch alerted police.
Officers Steven Berardi, Raymond Masciocchi and Linda Crusemire responded. When Officer Ned Felici arrived, he peered into the windows and saw the gunman standing over the customers and employees lying on the floor.
Felici alerted all responding officers and police radio that the bank was being robbed. The officers surrounded the building. Policemen Tom Edwards and Ronald Reymer were waiting outside the Cottman Avenue exit as two of the robbers headed to the door. Edwards ordered the men to drop their weapons, but the duo raced through the door and fled east of Cottman and then south on Oakland Street.
The third robber knocked Officer James Storm off balance while dashing out a bank door on Horrocks Street and fleeing south.
The robbers ran past numerous children and adults as they tried to elude the officers. Berardi saw one of the suspects, later identified as Durrell Brown, 28, discard a bundle of money as he ran south through an alley. Berardi grabbed Brown on the 7100 block of Saul St.
Officer Christine Fleming had seen Brown drop a weapon and recovered it. Officer Valerie Felici, the wife of policeman Ned Felici, retrieved the money Brown allegedly had discarded and returned to the bank to help preserve the crime scene.
Officers Masciocchi, Crusemire, Edwards, and Reymer continued to pursue Durrell Brown’s brother Lawrence, who had a plastic bag filled with money in one hand and a weapon in the other, according to Mroz.
Lawrence Brown, 27, fled to the 2200 block of Englewood St., where officers tackled him to the ground. Brown dropped the bag but continued to struggle with the officers while grabbing at his waist. Officers overcame Brown, searched him and found his weapon in his jacket pocket, Mroz said.
The third robbery suspect, 29-year-old Victor Beckwith, who emerged from the Horrocks Street entrance of the bank, was overtaken by officers Ned Felici, Storm and John Madonna. A weapon reportedly was found in his pants pocket. Additionally, Storm found the suspects’ getaway vehicle.
All of the officers were nominated for bravery commendations. ••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org