Friends of NYC Daily Clerk Killed by Hazmat-Suit Gunman Concerned She Worked Single Shift

Friends of NYC Daily Clerk Killed by Hazmat-Suit Gunman Concerned She Worked Single Shift

A close friend of a murdered night-shift Upper East Side deli worker was concerned for the elderly clerk’s safety even before robbers in a hazmat suit shot him to death.

The victim is a 67-year-old man Killed on Friday In what police believe to be a string of stick-ups, he survived a robbery scare last year with the help of his friend, who was at the store so he wouldn’t be alone.

“I said, ‘Mike. I don’t think you should be here alone,'” Helen Rambert, 67, recalled one conversation she had with the victim.

The gunman killed him at 11:20 pm on Friday.

Police have not yet released the victim’s full name, although neighbors and friends have set up a small memorial outside the deli, identifying him as “Michael.”

Rambert recalled an incident last year when he came into the store at 3 a.m. and his friend was afraid that another customer inside might rob him. So he stayed in the deli until the man left.

“Once the man left the shop he hugged me very tightly. He held me tight. He said, ‘Thank you. Thank you very much… I think the guy was trying to rob me,” he told the Daily News. “From then on, we were like two peas in a pod.”

Rambert, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, often goes out at night and sees Michael whenever he goes shopping early in the morning.

“He is a night worker. He stayed very close to me and I was very close to him. We joke around and do stuff like that,” she said. “Sometimes late at night — 1, 2 in the morning — I’d come and get my stuff and she’s there.”

A decade ago, he was worried about his safety on the night shift.

“I asked him. I said, ‘Mike, why are you working here by yourself?’

His response was, “Oh, it’s fine. I’ll be fine,” he recalled.

The victim was standing behind the counter Friday night when the robber, wearing a mask and a head-to-toe white hazmat suit, barged in and demanded a customer get down on the floor and empty his pockets, police sources said.

The customer complied and the gunman turned on Michael, hitting him in the head with the butt of his gun, sources said.

The robber walked to the back of the store and the customer fled — hearing gunshots as he ran, sources said.

The bullet ricocheted through the victim’s left arm, then hit him in the head.

Another friend, Alan Mandel, 71, said he saw Michael about an hour earlier when he went to get a cup of coffee.

“I know Mike was on duty. And no one was in the store,” Mandel said. “We had our wishes. ‘Medium?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘How much sugar?’ ‘Three’… and we had a little chat.”

Michael was alert but kind and often let homeless people in from the cold, Mandel said.

“Even if they don’t admit it, everyone is worried and looking over their shoulder at night,” he said of the neighborhood.

About half an hour later, an armed man in a Tyvek-style hazmat suit approached Melrose Ave and E. 160 cents robbed Yaya’s Deli in the Bronx, police said. The two crime scenes are about 5 miles apart.

A second man wearing similar clothing followed suit, the manager said.

Police are investigating whether two Brooklyn robberies — one on Feb. 25, the other on March 1 — were committed by the killer, sources said. In both cases, Crook wore a Tyvek suit.

On March 1, a stickup-suited man robbed the Super Deli Market on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint.

An employee told The News that the robber went to the back of the store, pulled out a six-pack of Tackett beer and put it in the impersonator’s book bag, pointed it at the food delivery driver inside the store and pointed a gun at the cashier. .

The gunman “calmly” demanded all the money in the register, “no less than $1,500” and five cartons of cigarettes, the worker recalled. “When he pointed the gun at me, a customer walked in and immediately ran out.”

“For a moment I was surprised, shocked that something like this would happen in this neighborhood. It was my first robbery,” he said. “When you see a mask and a hazmat suit these days, it looks normal with all this COVID stuff.”

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