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Hemet Valley Tool employees fend off knife-wielding robber w/ sledgehammer

April 12, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hemet Valley Tool owner Tom Palmieri has had to deal with a few shoplifters in his 28 years of business. But nothing like the one he encountered Wednesday after a man allegedly tried to take off with a $300 drill kit.

The attempted robbery occurred in the 300 block of Esplanade Avenue in the area of San Jacinto in Riverside County.

"I told him he is not leaving without paying for the tool and he pulled a knife," said Palmieri who alleges the suspect then threatened to stab him.

Surveillance video shows Palmiere jumping to the side as the knife comes out.

His son, Mike, was right behind his dad but realized they were no match against the knife-wielding man.

"I ran as fast as I could back to the shop and grabbed a crowbar and then went back out there and pretty much tried to be the aggressor," said Mike.

With a crowbar in hand, Mike was soon joined by his brother-in-law, Mark Anderson, who heard the commotion and armed himself with a sledgehammer.

"He was waving the knife around and wasn't going to put it down," said Anderson. "We just kept telling him to sit down, and drop the knife and wait for the cops to come they are on their way."

But the suspect would not comply. With their adrenaline pumping, Anderson says he used the sledge hammer to sweep the suspect's legs out from under him. Mike then used his crowbar to get the knife away.

"I cocked back with the crowbar and swung for the fences on his arm," said Mike. "I just wanted to hit his arm because I knew he would drop the knife."

They along with help from others were able to hold down the suspect until police arrived.

The suspect identified as 35-year-old Nicolas Tupa was arrested after he was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital. He is facing charges on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. Tupa is being held on $30,000 bail.

"Mark's new name is sledge," said Palmieri. "We haven't figured one for Mike yet but its coming."

They're able to joke about the situation now but they know it could have ended much differently.

"It could have gone a million other ways against us, we could have got stabbed, so I just thank God it turned out the way it did," said Mike.

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