Highland Park Business Owner Resists Armed Robbery
A Piero's Pizza employee intervened in an attempted robbery. The victim said he had just heard a gun cocked before help arrived.
Shortly after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, a man pinned Brian Sugarman to the driver's seat of his car while another man forced his hands into Sugarman's pockets.
Sugarman owns MACnician, an Apple product repair store in Highland Park. Though the 28-year-old Highwood resident had closed up at 6 p.m. as usual, he had come back later to check on a project.
A man walked up to Sugarman as he got into his car and asked if the next-door Piero's Pizza was still open. Moments later, another man appeared. The two of them opened the driver's side door of Sugarman's car and told him to empty his pockets.
Sugarman had $700 in his wallet from a phone he had sold earlier in the day. He said no.
They pushed him.
He pushed back.
"I started fighting with them," Sugarman told Patch. "I was feeling very stubborn and pissed off and wanted to fight for what I thought was right."
Sugarman tried to start his car and drive away, but the men took the keys out of the ignition and pocketed them.
He was trapped.
"Just give me your wallet," one of the attackers said. "It's not worth getting shot over."
That's when Sugarman said he heard the gun cock.
'They want to kill me'
While closing down earlier that night, Piero's Pizza employee Tony Savino had spotted a car driving up and down Broadview before stopping in front of his storefront.
The car did this three times.
Savino grew suspicious. When someone from the car asked Savino to open the doors for Piero's, he refused. He continued closing up until he heard a car horn and what sounded like screams.
"Tony, help me," Savino heard. "They want to kill me."
Savino walked outside, where he spotted the two men standing by Sugarman's car. Though it was dark, Savino could see one held Sugarman while another dug through his pockets.
"Brian's a good guy," Savino told Patch on Friday. The two had gotten to know each other from working in neighboring storefronts. "I felt I had to help him."
Without thinking, Savino walked up to the car and kicked the driver's side car door as hard as he could. Startled, the men dropped the phone and laptop bag they'd taken and took off.
"Tony pretty much saved me from being shot," Sugarman later recalled. "He came out just at the right time."
Wrong place, wrong time
The Highland Park Police arrived soon after.
While officers asked Sugarman and Savino questions at the scene, police said that patrol officers spotted a car that matched the suspicious vehicle's description on Green Bay Road near the Central Business District. Forty-two year old Luccien Hurt of Maywood, 34-year-old Antoine Hotchkiss and 44-year-old Parnell Squire, both of Chicago, were arrested for aggravated robbery and transported to Lake County Bond Court, according to police.
Inside their car, police said they found a handgun.
Sugarman, who grew up in Highland Park, still thinks of the city as a safe place. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Looking back on it, I'm kind of terrified by it," Sugarman said. "I'm very lucky that I'm alive. … And I'm very happy that they got caught."