When Kay Snyder saw her friend getting beat up in the driveway of her East Burlington Street home on the afternoon of Aug. 3, the first thing she did was call police. The second thing the 76-year-old Riverside business owner did, with the phone still in her hand, was rush outside to confront the two men who were robbing the 70-year-old Hillside man of $30,000 in jewelry.
“It all happened so fast,” said Snyder, who owns Arcade Jewelers in Riverside. “I just ran out there screaming.”
She got within five feet of one of the masked assailants, when he allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her head.
“Stay out of this, bitch,” the man allegedly said to her.
But Snyder’s appearance ended the robbery. The two men grabbed three bags of jewelry and ran to a waiting gray van, which was parked in the lot of a nearby insurance business, and the vehicle sped away toward Harlem Avenue.
While her friend suffered some minor cuts and bruises, Snyder was unhurt.
“It’s just a miracle,” she said.
On Aug. 6 after an investigation that included several Riverside officers being pulled from the street to serve as additional detectives, police charged the two men suspected of committing the robbery.
Juan Ramos, 21, of Cicero, and Saul Sandoval, 19, of Chicago, each have been charged with two counts of armed robbery. In addition, Sandoval was charged with two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly pointing the handgun at Snyder. Ramos was also charged with aggravated battery to a senior citizen.
Armed robbery is a Class X felony that carries a prison term of up to 30 years, if convicted.
The two men are being held at Cook County Jail. At a bond hearing in Thursday, a judge set Ramos’ bond at $85,000 and Sandoval’s bond at $70,000.
Police say video surveillance footage proved conclusively that the men followed the robbery victim to Snyder’s house from the Swap-O-Rama at 4200 S. Ashland Ave. in Chicago, where he operates a booth on a regular basis.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said that the getaway vehicle was seen following the victim out of the parking lot of the Swap-O-Rama. It was also seen following the victim on camera footage obtained from the Berwyn Fruit Market on Harlem Avenue, where the man stopped prior to going to Snyder’s home.
By enhancing the video, police were able to get a license plate number, which led them to a home in Cicero where the men were arrested.
“The video played huge role in evidence for this,” said Weitzel.
Both Snyder and the victim also independently picked out Ramos and Sandoval in a physical lineup where the men were masked.
Weitzel said Sandoval and Ramos are self-admitted gang members who were working with a street crew that staked out the Swap-O-Rama for people carrying either large amounts of cash or jewelry and then followed and robbed them.
According to police, both suspects were charged with a similar robbery in Chicago in 2012, but they were not convicted.
Police were not able to recover the jewelry, which they suspect was either sold on the street or melted down after the robbery.
In addition to crediting his officers for their work, Weitzel thanked police in Berwyn, Lyons, North Riverside, Brookfield and Cicero for their cooperation during the investigation.
“There was a lot of cooperation amongst all the agencies,” said Weitzel. “Plus, we had good witnesses.”