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Safeway Shopper Thwarts Pharmacy Robbery

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Frank Ventola talks with CBS4's Suzanne McCarroll (credit: CBS)

Frank Ventola talks with CBS4’s Suzanne McCarroll (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – An armed robber thought he’d gotten away with some prescription drugs, but a quick-thinking customer saw the crime ending differently.

Around dinner time Saturday night most customers were at the Safeway store at Happy Canyon and Hampden in South Denver for a few extra food items, but police say one man came in looking to rob the pharmacy of vials of Vicodin. He almost got away with them had it not been for a customer with a sweet tooth.

Frank Ventola was just trying to be a good father Saturday night when he went to his neighborhood supermarket.

“I had my daughter (at home) and I was just going to get ice cream,” Ventola said.

He was looking for coffee ice cream when he heard screams from the pharmacy in the back of the store.

“I heard the pharmacist yell, ‘Help, help I’m being robbed, someone stop him, I’m being robbed,’ ” he said.

So somewhere near the checkout stands, underneath the happy birthday balloons Ventola tackled the suspect.

“I’m assuming the guy was the robber, I had no idea at that point.”

There weren’t a lot of people in the store at the time but someone called police.

“We were wrestling around and I found a knife on him.”

The modest Ventola says he isn’t a fighter but he is a hockey player, so he’s had some experience getting into brawls.

“Oh we had some conversation.”

He said his words were not fit for the other shoppers nearby.

He said his daughter back at home waiting for her coffee ice cream had her doubts about her dad’s heroics.

“’What took so long dad?’ And I said, ‘I had to break up some kind of robbery.’ And she goes, ‘Sure dad (sarcastically).’ “

Safeway gave Ventola his ice cream free of charge and now the 20-year-old suspect is in custody.

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