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'I wasn't trying to be a hero'
Staatsburg store owner routs armed robber
BY JIM LANGAN • ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 12/23/15
Amrik Singh and his family have owned the Gas Stop mini-mart in Hyde Park for nearly 20 years. The store is located on Route 9 almost across the street from the Anderson Center. Singh and his business have long been a big part of the community and one of the few thriving businesses on that stretch of Hyde Park. Locals have long appreciated the courtesy and convenience afforded them by the hard work and long hours of this family enterprise. I am a long-time customer there and have always known Mr. Singh as Michael. The store is open early and closes late with Singh and other family members often working alone.
Such was the case a week ago Tuesday night when a masked gunman burst in the door brandishing a single barrel shotgun and demanded money “or I will shoot you.” The robber then tossed a plastic bag from CVS on the counter as Singh put his hands up. In a conversation with Hudson Valley News, Singh said he began putting cash in the bag as the nervous robber continued to point the gun at him. At some point the robber approached the counter and reached over the counter demanding $100 bills. With the two men in close proximity Singh said he grabbed the assailant’s arm backing him away from the counter. “I don’t know what made me do it. I wasn’t trying to be a hero. Maybe it was God or something else. Then I threw a shoe at him hitting him in the face and then I threw another one which missed him. I then got behind a lottery display case for protection.”
After looking at surveillance footage of the incident you can see there was a brief standoff and the robber appears confused before electing to flee. Singh then chases the man to the door where a brief struggle ensues. Singh says at that point part of the robber’s mask comes off and he breaks free and runs into the parking lot with Singh in pursuit. The robber’s car was parked directly outside the store at the northern end of the structure. In the struggle a single gunshot blast is heard leaving a sizable indentation in the asphalt as Singh loses his footing.
The robber then leaps into his car and tears out heading north on Route 9. A shaken but unbowed Singh heads back to call police as another car pulls in. The car belonged to a local off-duty police officer who heard the gunshot as he drove by and made an immediate u-turn to assist. The officer requested anonymity for his exploit but Singh said he was so shaken up that he had the officer dial for help.
According to Singh, the New York State Police were the lead agency and were extremely helpful investigating the crime with the assistance of the Sheriff’s Office and Hyde Park Police. By Friday, New York State Police from the Rhinebeck barracks arrested 26-year-old Christopher Dam, of Hyde Park, and charged him with first degree attempted robbery and criminal use of a firearm subsequent to an armed robbery. Dam was arraigned before the Town of Hyde Park Court and remanded to the Dutchess County Jail.
At the conclusion of my conversation with Mr. Singh, he went to great lengths to tell me how much he and his family appreciate the support they have received from the community. Singh said, “People have been coming in wishing me well and telling me how important our store is to them. It means an awful lot.” When reminded this is the second time the store has been held up in recent years, we asked if he would ever consider moving or closing. The answer was in his warm smile and philosophical disposition. “No,” and then Mr. Singh excused himself to attend to a customer.