Plainclothes Officers Foil Robbery of S.I. Diner

Two plainclothes police officers on a meal break foiled an attempted armed robbery at an all-night diner in Staten Island early Thursday, the police said.

The authorities said that a gunman wearing a green camouflage mask and a black hooded sweatshirt entered the nearly empty Golden Dove Diner in the Great Kills neighborhood at about 3:10 a.m.

No one was at the cash register, so the gunman pointed his gun at the handful of people at the counter, which included the two officers and Joseph Salemmo, a D.J. and a limousine driver, according to Mr. Salemmo.

Mr. Salemmo said: “He looked like a sniper. He said, `This is a stickup.’ ”

The two officers identified themselves as police and twice told the suspect to put down his gun, Mr. Salemmo said. One officer fired a shot that struck the counter, according to Matthew Ambrosio, a manager, and the gunman fled without getting any money.

The officers chased the man outside. “The suspect was like shooting and there was shooting back and forth,” Mr. Salemmo said. “It was like the middle of a war zone.”

The officers fired 13 rounds in all, wounding the suspect in the right leg, the police said.

He was still able to get into a late model Dodge sedan he had stolen earlier and flee, the police said.

After the officers radioed in a description of the car, other New York police and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officers caught up with the suspect several miles away. He crashed into a fence at the end of a dead-end road, the police said, and after exiting the car, tossed a gun and a Yankees baseball cap filled with cash underneath it.

The cap had $179 in it, which detectives believe was taken in another armed robbery in New Jersey earlier that morning.

The suspect was identified as Michael Grimes, 41, and was described by the police as a Staten Island resident with a history of nearly two dozen arrests, five of them for robbery. The police say that Mr. Grimes is a suspect in five other robberies in the area dating to Sept. 30. He was listed in stable condition at Staten Island University Hospital on Thursday.

Officials would not disclose the identities of the two officers involved, but gave their ages as 25 and 29 and said it was the first time they had fired their weapons on duty.

Mr. Salemmo said, “You would think something like this would never happen in Staten Island. I thought I was having a heart attack.”

The gunman, he added, “picked the wrong diner.”

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