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Cafe Katja Employee Describes Orchard St. Drama

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Pilgrim store front after robbery on June 14, 2011 - photo by thelodownny.com

More on the dramatic scene that unfolded on Orchard Street earlier this evening.  A few minutes ago, The Lo-Down’s Jennifer Strom spoke with James Fry, who works at Cafe Katja across the street from Pilgrim, the clothing store that was robbed.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Fry said he heard the sound of shattering glass. He walked outside to investigate and saw Pilgrim co-owner Brian Bennett on the ground, tussling with one of the suspects. They were both covered in blood and glass fragments.

As the suspects tried to get away, Fry, Chuck Guarino (of The Cast) and Robert James (another Orchard Street shopkeeper) began chasing after them. They headed down Orchard, around the corner on Grand and up Allen — all the way to Congee Village.

During this entire time, Fry was on the phone with 911, giving an operator detailed information about what was happening. They yelled at the suspects to stop. There were earlier reports that the suspects were tackled. But Fry told Jennifer that they did not touch the three men and one woman. The cops arrived as the suspects passed Congee Village.

Three of them were arrested. The fourth suspect, the one bleeding from his head and arm, got away. Fry said he followed him as far as Elrdidge and Broome, but then the man disappeared.

The people who work on this particular section of Orchard Street have built a close-knit community. Many of them are friends and they look out for one another. “We do what we can,” Fry said, adding this warning: “Don’t fuck around on Orchard Street.”

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  1. This is great – thank you James Fry, Chuck Guarino, et al.
    Orchard Street is a lovely, wonderful block which we enjoy very, very much.  It is good to know that the merchants stick together and that the folks on the street pitch in as well when something like this happens.
    Last September my husband chased a suspect, who had just robbed and beaten a bleeding victim on Hester and Essex, down Orchard and around Broome to Essex, all the while on his phone with 911, me following as back up.   The bloodied victim finally fainted near Little Giant and so many people came to his aid, including a doctor who had been dining in Giant!
    Criminals who pick this block are foolish (they’re criminals, not geniuses) because the community is tight-knit and has good eyes, ears and just general concern for each other.
    Our best wishes for a quick recovery and back to business for Pilgrim and Co.

  2. “Don’t fuck around on Orchard Street.” That says it best. The LES needs to be this close every where. Best of luck to a quick recovery

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