Victim grateful to good Samaritan in Highland Park
7/7/12 Highland Park On June 30, a Highwood resident(HP native) Brian Sugarman (right) was attacked by two men trying who tried to rob him outside his business, Macnician, a computer support company. Next door, Tony Savino (middle), the manager at Piero's Pizza heard Sugarman yelling and honking his horn. Savino ran outside to help. He kicked the car door into the two attackers who dropped the laptop and cell phone and fled. Piero's driver BrianMacFarlane (left) made a 911 call and the thieves were later picked up by police. The three are shown outside their places of buisness where the crime happened. | Tamara Bell~Sun Times Media
SCENE OF THE CRIME
TIME AND DATE: 9:15 p.m. May 30
LOCATION: Broadview just north of Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park’s Ravinia Business District.
CHARGES: Three men face felony aggravated robbery charges.
Updated: August 13, 2012 7:01AM
HIGHLAND PARK -- Highland Park native Brian Sugarman fought back, yelled for help and frantically honked his car horn when two attackers converged on him at 9:15 p.m. May 30 outside his Ravinia Business District shop.
Seconds later, Tony Savino, the manager at Piero’s Pizza next-door, bolted outside to help. Showing no fear, he ran straight at the attackers and kicked Sugarman’s driver’s side door, smashing the attackers between the door and the side of the car.
The impact forced the men to drop Sugarman’s laptop computer, iPhone and wallet. They fled in a waiting car, but didn’t get too far north on Green Bay Road before Highland Park police reeled them in with the help of descriptions from the scene.
“They said ‘Give me your wallet; it’s not worth getting killed over a wallet,’” Sugarman said, before recalling the even more scary sound of a gun cock-back seconds later. “I consider myself very fortunate, and Tony is responsible for that. I owe him big time.”
The nightmare scenario all went down outside of Sugarman’s Apple computer repair shop and consulting company, Macnician, which he opened nearly one year ago at 651 Roger Williams Ave.
Sugarman, who graduated from Highland Park High School in 2002 and now lives in Highwood, explained that it was always his dream to open a business in his hometown.
Despite the harrowing experience, his opinion of Highland Park and the Ravinia neighborhood hasn’t changed a bit.
“Highland Park is a safe place,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to think this isn’t a safe place to shop or live. I haven’t changed the way I run my store. This type of thing happens everywhere once in awhile. I just think I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“For a few days I was pretty upset about it, and rightfully so, because the situation could have gone a lot of ways.”
Sugarman typically isn’t at his shop around 9 p.m., but he returned late on May 30 to check on a project he was working on earlier in the day. The attack occurred when he returned to his car.
“They pulled my car door open,” he recalled, and ordered him to give them “everything I had. I refused and we began to struggle. One was trying to hold me while the other was going through my pockets.”
Sugarman began to yell and honk the horn, as he knew Saviano was inside the pizza place.
“I heard the gun cock back; that’s when Tony ran out and slammed my car door into them,” Sugarman said.
Both Sugarman and Saviano said they’d likely handle the situation differently if they knew a gun was involved from the start.
“If I had to do it again, I probably wouldn’t struggle,” Sugarman said. “I can’t tell anyone how to act in that kind of situation. If a gun was pointed at my head, I wouldn’t have acted that way. People act the way they act in a moment. I didn’t know they had a gun ’til later.”
Savino remembers Sugarman yelling “Help, they’re going to kill me.”
“It was a friend of mine calling out that he needed help,” Saviano said of his business neighbor. “I didn’t really think. I thought about it afterwards. I didn’t see a gun, but I learned later they did have one.”
The gun was found inside the vehicle when police tracked the alleged attackers down on Green Bay Road.
The Lake County State’s Attorney later approved felony charges of aggravated robbery against Luccien Hurt, 42, of the 1900 block of 10th Avenue, Maywood; Antoine Hotchkiss, 34, of the 500 block of North St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, and Parnell Squire, 44, of the 3200 block of West Crystal Street, Chicago.
For their gutsy response, Highland Park Police Chief Paul Shafer and the City Council recognized Sugarman, Savino and another Piero’s Pizza employee on June 25 for their “outstanding civic action.”
“We never know when we may be jolted out of our routine and called to act,” Shafer said. “Needless to say this was an extremely dangerous situation Mr. Savino, Mr. (Brian) McFarlane and Mr. Sugarman found themselves in and we commend them for their courage.”