By Dawn Rhodes and Liam Ford
6:22 PM CST, January 6, 2012
Two men robbed a Ukrainian Village pizzeria at gunpoint early today, and the restaurant's owner said the entire frightening incident was caught on video thanks to a new surveillance system installed just a day ago.
John Gagliarpi Sr. was putting cheese in a cooler and preparing to close at Village Pizzeria, 2356 W. Chicago Ave., when two men walked in just after 5 a.m., asking for slices of sausage pizza.
The video shows him greeting the men and putting two slices in take-out bags as the men waited, their arms resting on the counter.
“All of a sudden, they came around the counter,” Gagliarpi said.
The video shows one of the men brandishing a handgun and pointing it at Gagliarpi’s head, while the second man appears to briefly confront two women, whom Gagliarpi’s son identified as his mother and sister.
The two men then confront Gagliarpi, who is in his 60s, and the gunman points at the cash register, appearing to demand that they open it. Then the gunman punches Gagliarpi in the face and the other man hits him in the back of the head.
“I stayed calm. I let them do what they wanted to me,” Gagliarpi said.
The video then shows Gagliarpi and his daughter pushing buttons on the register, but when it doesn’t open, the gunman points his gun at the woman. Gagliarpi is able to open the register and the gunman proceeds to empty it of about $300, said the owner's son, John Gagliarpi Jr.
The video then shows the second man attacking a female customer at the front of the store, dragging her out of her chair by her shirt collar.
Finally, the men take the cash and the pizza and start to leave, and the gunman turns and smiles at the senior Gagliarpi. As they walk out, the gunman drops some of the stolen money and the second man picks it up before leaving.
The female customer runs out and the owner's daughter rushes to lock the front door.
John Gagliarpi Jr. said the restaurant, which neighbors a Burger King, has been at that location for 15 years. His father has rarely experienced any trouble, but they felt their previous video system needed an update.
The new surveillance was up and running on Thursday, providing clear and detailed footage from two cameras in the restaurant and two in the back rooms.
Grand Central Area detectives are seeking to talk to anyone who might have seen the robbery or the robbers fleeing the scene, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.
The gunman appears to be wearing a black hoodie, pants and shoes. His hair was in braids. The second man was wearing a dark-colored beanie, black hoodie, pants and shoes.
“My dad has a good heart,” Gagliarpi Jr. said Friday afternoon. “He knows people out there are struggling and he always gave out slices. It’s just a shame. He didn’t have to go through that.”
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