Raid Bags 2 in Holdup; Shootout suspects nabbed By MICHAEL O. ALLEN and PATRICE O’SHAUGHNESSY, Daily News Staff Writers

Sunday, May 11, 1997

Lying in wait outside a Queens hideout, police yesterday captured two of the suspects in the wild 50-shot ambush that wounded a retired cop and a moonlighting detective during a payroll heist in Queens.

A third suspect — believed to be a twin brother of one of the two arrested — still was on the loose, cops said.

Shortly after 1 p.m., officers recovered a duffel bag that contained weapons, believed to be those used in the holdup, and thousands of dollars, believed to be part of the $50,000 cash stolen.

The identities of the suspects were not immediately released, but police said they have criminal records.

Cops staked out a house at 53-18 Junction Blvd. in Elmhurst after they developed information leading to occupants of the house, said Deputy Inspector Michael Collins, a police spokesman.

One suspect drove up in a van, accompanied by a child, and entered the brick and vinyl-sided house, emerging with a bag, which he threw into the van.

He drove on Junction to 55th Ave., and when he turned the corner, officers in a patrol car pulled him over and arrested him.

Within seconds, another suspect came out of the house, walked down Junction to 55th and started running. Cops tackled him.

He was carrying a bag stuffed with money, police said.

Believing that the third member of the vicious robbery team — the twin of the second suspect — was in the area, cops roped off the neighborhood for three hours. Emergency Service Unit cops flooded the area, as sharpshooters patrolled the roofs of nearby houses.

They fired rubber bullets into the house, and then entered. It was unoccupied.

The suspects were taken to the 109th Precinct stationhouse. Charges were pending.

Meanwhile, the retired officer critically wounded in Flushing Friday was due to undergo a second operation today, while the detective was in stable condition.

The police had been looking for three or four men in the bloody holdup outside a printing company on 168th St. and Station Road Friday morning.

The suspects — masked and armed with AK-47s and 9-mm. pistols — sprayed more than four dozen bullets at Joseph Bellone, a retired Bronx police officer, and off-duty Detective Arthur Pettus, who were working as security guards delivering a payroll.

The suspects fled with cash and checks and jumped on a city bus when a flat tire disabled their van, which had been stolen last month.

Bellone, 45, of upstate Newburgh, was in critical condition in the surgical intensive care unit of New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens and under heavy sedation.

His left arm and leg were riddled with bullets, but the wounds to his abdomen are “really serious,” and doctors were still working to repair them, said Brian Salisbury, a spokesman for the hospital.

Salisbury said Pettus, a 38-year-old cop assigned to Bronx robbery, was still in the recovery room in stable condition, alert and awake.

Pettus was shot in the legs and abdomen before he rolled under a van to escape the gunfire. Bellone returned nine shots, but one of the gunmen stood over him and fired at close range.

Police said the robbers fired immediately, aiming low, assuming their victims were wearing bulletproof vests, which they were not.

Late Friday, Bellone’s wife, Catherine, and his sister visited Pettus, who had been asking for Bellone.

Yesterday, Pettus was able to visit with his family.

A woman who lives across the street from 53-18 Junction said police had noticed the twin suspects before.

“Every weekend they come with different, very expensive cars,” said Vanessa Otero, 20. “A few months ago, cops came here, probably because of the cars, but they were not arrested.”

Original Story Date: 051197