Bravest snag slowest in Brooklyn holdup

Newsday - December 28, 2004

by ROBERT POLNER

Five firefighters jumped off their truck yesterday evening in Brooklyn to run after four men who robbed a livery cab driver.

The Bravest caught one of the suspects, and he was arrested soon after by police. But the others got away, and the cab driver was slashed across the face after he too gave chase.

"It was a police matter, but because it happened right in front of us, we tried to render an appropriate response," said Lt. John Cullen of Engine Co. 235 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, who noted the fire truck radioed immediately for police assistance. "We could see the driver needed help."

Cullen said the rescuers were returning from a minor subway station fire when, at 5:48 p.m., their truck stopped at a red light at Bedford and Church.

Cullen said he saw the livery driver being punched by someone seated in the passenger seat, and three other young men were moving around in the backseat.

Then all four passengers bolted from the cab.

"I thought it was young kids trying to beat a fare," said the lieutenant. "But the driver, who gave me his name as Sunday Ezemdr, said his wallet was just stolen, and he ran after them."

The slowest of the alleged robbers was caught by firefighters John Colon and Eric Rasmussen, who detained him until police arrived, Cullen said. The suspect's name was not immediately released.

Cullen and firefighters Brian Clifford and Douglas Gaynor continued running toward Flatbush Avenue, where they saw the driver being treated by an ambulance crew that had been waiting for its next run.

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