SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 1, 2011

'I just reacted'

Amputee, 55, describes how he took down alleged robber

(Continued)

After his arrest, a "nervous" Homen agreed to talk to police, but in a videotaped interview, he claimed he could not recall what happened at the store, according to court papers. Homen said he was driving around Peabody, smoking marijuana, and recalled passing Richardson's Ice Cream on Route 114. Then, he said, he "blacked out" and didn't remember anything else.

Homen's parents were in court yesterday but declined to comment.

'Everything they tell you not to do'

Both Cornell and Andrade said they didn't think the gun was real. Still, in hindsight, Cornell, a father of two teenagers and a 32-year employee at Eastman Gelatine, said tripping an armed suspect wasn't the smartest move. After the incident, Cornell called his wife, Linda, and told her he helped stop a robbery.

"She said, 'You did everything they tell you not to do," Cornell said. "I don't know. I reacted first and didn't think."

Andrade is a 36-year-old father of two who lives in Saugus. He was closing up around 8:50 p.m. when the suspect, with a shirt covering his face, walked in with the gun, the shop owner said.

"I looked down, and he has the gun in front of me," Andrade said. At first, he thought it was a joke. "I thought it was not real, but you don't want to take any chances, you know what I mean?"

The suspect demanded $300, he said, but Andrade said he didn't have that much and told the man to just walk out. His sister, Rozane, was in the kitchen and didn't know what was happening.

"I look outside, and I saw Steve," Andrade said. He threw the money at the suspect, and the man fled.

Police Chief James DiGianvittorio agrees that perhaps Cornell and Andrade should have used more caution.

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