By Michael V. Cusenza
A South Ozone Park man was arrested early Wednesday morning for his role in the September armed robbery of an Ozone Park smoke shop, according to federal prosecutors.
Fathy Hussein, 30, was taken into custody by members of the NYPD/ATF Joint Robbery Task Force. As of Wednesday afternoon, Hussein’s two cohorts in the armed robbery are still on the lam.
According to prosecutors’ detention memorandum:
On or about Sept. 14, 2022, at approximately 5:55 p.m., three men wearing masks (the “Robbers”) exited a black Mazda 3 sedan with right front-end damage and missing hubcaps (the “Subject Vehicle”) and entered a shop at 135-20 109th Ave. in Ozone Park (the “Tobacco Shop”). Two of the Robbers immediately pointed firearms at store employees and customers (including what appears to be an assault-style rifle), forcing several of them to the ground.
Meanwhile, the third Robber, later identified as the defendant, ran behind the checkout counter and emptied money from the cash register. The defendant also found and took a bag filled with additional cash that was not stored inside the register. The defendant then grabbed several cannabidiol (“CBD”) and marijuana products from a glass display case at the counter and deposited them into black plastic trash bags. Finally, the defendant grabbed several store employees’ cell phones that had been left out in the store atop the checkout counter and elsewhere.
Thereafter, the Robbers fled the Tobacco Shop and entered the Subject Vehicle, which was waiting at the end of the block at the corner of 109th Avenue and Van Wyck
Expwy., and drove off. In total, they stole approximately $3,000 in cash, approximately $1,000 of CBD and marijuana products, and four cell phones.
The entire robbery was captured on video cameras inside and outside the Tobacco
Shop, as depicted below. At approximately 5:55 p.m., the Robbers can be seen exiting the
Subject Vehicle and entering the Tobacco Shop. Between approximately 5:55 p.m. and 5:57
p.m., the Robbers can be seen robbing the Tobacco Shop at gunpoint as described above. At approximately 5:57 p.m., the Robbers can be seen fleeing the Tobacco Shop, running down the block, entering the Subject Vehicle and driving off.
All three men can be seen clearly in video footage wearing distinctive clothes. The defendant can be seen wearing dark green pants with distinctive multicolored underwear showing above the waistband. The pattern visible on the underwear includes a large white letter “R” and text resembling the year “1990” in yellow. The defendant can also be seen wearing light brown boots, a dark hooded sweatshirt, white latex gloves, a black facemask and dark sunglasses.
The video footage of the robbery was made public and appeared on the local news and the internet. On September 20, 2022, an anonymous call was received on the City Police Department Crime Stoppers hotline with information about the robbery.
Among other things, the caller indicated that, on the day of the robbery, the Robbers attempted to sell the stolen items in the vicinity of 129th Street and Liberty Avenue in Queens, New York.
The caller also indicated that one of the Robbers was an individual with the Instagram handle “litty_loccain.” NYPD detectives reviewed the Instagram account for “litty_loccain” and observed that the profile picture appeared to be a picture of the defendant, who had prior arrests and whose photograph was available in law enforcement databases.
Based on the Crime Stoppers tip, NYPD detectives reviewed video surveillance footage from the vicinity of 129th Street and Liberty Avenue from the day of the robbery. The footage revealed that, at approximately 6:50 p.m. that day, a black Mazda 3 sedan with right front-end damage and missing hubcaps, resembling the Subject Vehicle, appeared in that area and several individuals exited.
Minutes later, between approximately 6:57 and 7:00 p.m., footage from a storefront camera in that same vicinity shows the defendant walking on Liberty Avenue between 127th Street and 128th Street. In the footage, as depicted below, the defendant can be seen with no mask and his face clearly visible, wearing the same light brown boots, dark green pants, and distinctive multicolored underwear with a white “R” and yellow text resembling the year “1990” that he can be seen wearing during the robbery. NYPD detectives who had previously interacted with the defendant, including during his prior arrests, viewed the Liberty Avenue footage and confirmed that the individual who could be seen in it appeared to be the defendant.
Location data associated with a phone used by the defendant, obtained pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant, places the defendant blocks away from the Tobacco Shop at approximately 5:23 p.m., approximately one half-hour before the robbery, and blocks away from the above-described Liberty Avenue location at approximately 7:34 p.m., approximately one half-hour after he can be seen on video footage walking there.