A Newton police officer is being hailed for stopping an armed robbery of a convenience store while off duty last week.
Lt. Dave Tempesta, wearing his uniform, was in the back of the Corner Mini Mart on Border Street just after 2 p.m. on Dec. 3 when a man entered the shop carrying a knife and threatened the store clerk, according to police. Tempesta drew his service firearm and ordered the man, later identified by police as 30-year-old Thomas Zekos, to drop the knife.
Police said Zekos tried to run away, but Tempesta “tackled him.”
“The Lt. began struggling with the suspect and had to discard his firearm behind the store counter until the clerk and two customers … who walked into the store in the middle of the incident came in and assisted him,” police said. “Once other units arrived and the suspect was in custody Lt. [Tempesta] secured his firearm and the knife was gathered as evidence.”
Zekos, 30, of Shrewsbury was arrested and charged in connection with the incident.
The owner of the mini mart, Charlie Patel, told WBZ that Tempesta is a regular at his shop and had arrived at the store just two minutes before the robbery started.
“I love my cop,” Patel said of his “friend,” Tempesta. “He’s my heart. The cop is my heart.”
According to the station, Zekos pleaded not guilty to the charges of armed robbery, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.