Elected officials and community leaders gathered in Elmhurst on Friday, April 1, to honor the two men who were injured after heroically stopping a violent robbery outside their pizza shop last week.
Louie Suljovic, 38, a military veteran and owner of Louie’s Pizzeria on Baxter Avenue, and his 68-year-old father, Charlie, both intervened Saturday night, March 26, as three men attempted to rob a Korean woman, Eun Hee Chang. Suljovic and his father both suffered stab wounds. Suljovic’s father was unable to attend the celebration since he is still in the hospital.
Congresswoman Grace Meng thanked the two for their quick jump to action as the crowd of about 50 people cheered, clapped and chanted “Louie.”
“We are gathering here today to say ‘thank you’ and salute you and your dad for your selflessness and your bravery,” Meng said. “Both of them are an inspiration — a shining example of what is great about the people of Queens and the city of New York. The two of them embody the best of New York City.”
According to police, three men approached the 61-year-old Korean woman outside of Louie’s Pizzeria around 9 p.m. They then pushed her to the ground, took her bag and stabbed her, just before Suljovic and his father could intervene.
Suljovic told ABC 7 that he was stabbed while struggling to stop the assailants and his father was stabbed nine times. The two also reportedly suffered collapsed lungs. The father-son duo held down the attackers until police from the 110th Precinct arrived.
One of the arresting officers, Officer Kevin O’Donnell, spoke at the ceremony saying, “We love Louie and I thank God we were where we were.”
According to NYPD, two assailants, 30-year-old Robert Whack and 18-year-old Supreme Gooding, were arrested. They also reported that Whack was in possession of “a large amount of heroin.” The third assailant remains at large. The two muggers that were apprehended were previously arrested for other incidents of assault.
Suljovic passionately said attacks like these can be prevented and the city needs to do more to protect New Yorkers.
“I hope this is a catalyst for change,” Suljovic said. “This city need change, we need to stop the violence. We need to put the people who are repeat offenders in prison. We need to untie the hands of our judicial system. Things like this could have been prevented. Let’s hope from here on out we can make a difference in this city and making it better for our kids tomorrow.”
The community rallied together to start a GoFundMe to cover medical expenses and pay the pizzeria staff since they closed while recovering. As of Friday afternoon, April 1, the page raised $612,138, exceeding its $75,000 goal. Eun Hee Chang’s GoFundMe has raised nearly $100,000.
Suljovic is well known in the community for his kindness, having provided meals to frontline workers at Elmhurst Hospital. Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, who worked with Suljovic to help serve food to essential workers during the pandemic, said she was not surprised by the Suljovic’s courage.
“Louie has been here for our community every day during the pandemic,” Cruz said. “He turned food into hope. When you pass by and hear the neighbors call your name, it’s not just because of the great pizza, it’s because of your heart. We’re thankful to have you as our neighbor, hero and friend.”