GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — A robbery suspect whose gun went off in Roosevelt Field Mall, sending hundreds of shoppers fleeing for their lives on Tuesday, will spend the rest of the holiday week behind bars. It's the result of a high bail amount a judge set for suspect Oliver Lee, 21, after a hero store security guard foiled what police said could have been a shooting scene with multiple fatalities.
Thomas Krumpter, the acting Nassau County police commissioner, said that Lee attempted to steal, at gunpoint, a Rolex watch from the Tourneau store in the country's 11th largest mall around 12:50 Tuesday afternoon. Lee asked to see an $18,700 Rolex, and was ushered into a viewing room. Kenneth Krug, 49, a store detective and security guard, was also inside the store.
According to investigators, Lee started to pull out his 9-millimeter semi automatic pistol while viewing the watch. Krug spotted it instantly, and sprang into action. His quick work, Krumpter said, prevented Lee's gun from doing more damage.
"He had to grab that subject's gun with his strong hand over the top of the [gun's] slide," the commissioner said, "and it resulted with the gun jamming after the first shot was fired."
That shot ended up hitting a 67-year-old man who works at the Macy's store in the mall. He was hit in the shoulder and neck by the bullet that discharged from Lee's gun.
That assessment of the situation was confirmed by police, but was given by the hero of the situation, Kenneth Krug. He's a retired NYPD detective sergeant who posted a comment about the incident on his Facebook page.
There, Krug asked for prayers for the man who was shot. The man is expected to make a full recovery. Krug also, in his Facebook post, thanked his friends and family for their concern.
"Don't believe the crap in the media... They are already calling my house," he also wrote in the post.
Media, including PIX11 News, reported what law enforcement and other governmental officials said, that he's a hero because of the way he responded to Tuesday's attempted armed robbery, which could have become much worse.
"It resulted in a life and death struggle," Commissioner Krumpter said. "The struggle started at the rear of the store, and went out to the concourse of the mall," where it could have seen gunfire hurt far more people, without Krug's heroic acts, according to Krumpter's boss, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
"Kenneth Krug, we thank you for wrestling that perpetrator to the ground, taking his weapon away and holding him 'til police arrived," Mangano said. The county executive also mentioned NYPD Inspector Kenneth Lehr, who had been off duty shopping when the incident happened, saw the struggle, and slapped cuffs on Lee. Inspector Lehr declined a request by PIX11 News for an interview.
Oliver Lee, 21, also had no comment as he was taken off to court for his first appearance before a judge. His bail was set at $750,000.