Thursday, December 18, 2003

North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From the Philadelphia Inquirer of December 18, 2003

Attempted robbery of N. Phila. jeweler leaves 2 wounded

An exchange of gunfire inside a North Philadelphia jewelry store yesterday left the 58-year-old owner and a suspected robber wounded, police said.

According to detectives, the bullets started flying shortly before 9:45 a.m. inside Rush Jewelers, in the 2700 block of Germantown Avenue.

The owner, Alex Patlakh, was alone in the store, which sits along a busy strip near Lehigh Avenue, when two men motioned from outside that they wanted to be admitted, detectives said.

Police Inspector William Colarulo said Patlakh pushed a buzzer button that unlocked the front door and the pair came in. While Patlakh was showing jewelry to them, one of the two pulled a gun, Colarulo said.

"It appears that a fierce struggle ensued and gunshots were fired by both the victim and at least one of the perpetrators," said Colarulo, the Police Department's spokesman.

Patlakh suffered a graze wound of the head and two bullet injuries around his shoulder, police said. One robber was shot in the torso and one arm. The second man escaped.

When officers arrived on the scene, they spotted the wounded robber on his hands and knees in the store doorway, trying to get rid of blood-soaked money in his pocket, Colarulo said. On the floor also was a revolver believed to be owned by Patlakh and a 9mm semiautomatic pistol that police believe one robber shot Patlakh with.

"The store was in a shambles," Colarulo said. "We don't believe anything was taken."

Both the owner and the wounded robber were taken to Temple University Hospital. Police said Patlakh was in fair condition. The suspected robber, Anthony Alston, 44, was listed in critical condition. He was under guard and faces charges including attempted murder, robbery and related offenses, police said. Investigators last night were searching for his accomplice.

Yesterday was not the first time the Patlakh family has experienced business-related violence, officials said.

On Sept. 18, 1999, Patlakh's son, Brogdan, 24, was shot to death execution style during a robbery in his jewelry store in the 1700 block of East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia, police said.

The younger Patlakh was an expectant father who lived with his wife of two years in Northeast Philadelphia. He had owned the store for about two years. Police said four men participated in the holdup. One of those men, Quincy Burgess, 24, was killed in a shoot-out with city police in North Philadelphia less than a month later.

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