YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A good Samaritan was thrown from the car of two shoplifters, the windshield wiper assembly still in his hand, after he tried to stop them from getting away from a Saddle Brook A&P supermarket last night, police said.
The 49-year-old good Samaritan hurt his shoulder and hand but denied immediate medical treatment, Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler said.
At the same time, a 57-year-old store employee used his cellphone to snap a shot of the getaway car and send it to police, along with the license plate and direction of travel.
They found the vehicle a half-mile away, stuck in a snowpile.
The car skidded off the road at the intersection of Saddle River Road and Pehle Avenue — and both men were feverishly trying to push it out, Kugler said.
Officer John Tritto was the first on the scene, followed immediately by Officer Doug Habermann — who had the good Samaritan and A&P employee with him.
Both identified the suspects, who were arrested.
The driver was identified as Philip Gannaway, 31, of Franklin Lakes, and his passenger as Roy Ottino, 44, of Paterson.
They were being held on $15,000 bail each in the Bergen County Jail this morning, charged with robbery and shoplifting.
Kugler said both heroes “disregarded their own personal safety in pursuit of justice” and should be commended for “their exemplary bravery and their mental and physical perserverance.
“This is a shining example of the everyday heroes that are among, and are part of, our society and community,” the chief said.
The incident began around 8:30 last night when the employee followed the pair, who left without paying for a shopping cart full of items — including steaks, produce, baby diapers, 4-packs of Red Bull and miscellaneous toiletries, Kugler said.
Following them into the parking lot, the worker ordered them to stop.
But they got into a 1999 VolksWagon, abandoning the cart, and tried to drive off.
Seeing what was happening, the good Samaritan stood in the way of the car, which nearly ran him over, Kugler said.
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