An employee at a local church was praised Monday for trying to summon help after seeing a man attacking a woman.
The intervention ultimately resulted in the suspect taking the good Samaritan’s phone and breaking it, police said — and much more serious charges being filed.
Nobody was injured in the incident around 10:45 a.m. Friday on Union Street near St. John the Evangelist Church.
That’s when Stephen L. Torres, 28, of 704 Windsor Terrace allegedly pulled the woman’s hair and slapped her face, according to papers filed in court. The church employee saw the dispute and attempted to intervene by calling police. Torres, though, turned his attention to the worker, forcibly taking his phone, snapping it in half and then running away.
Police caught up with Torres about an hour later and took him into custody after a brief foot chase, police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken said. Court papers indicated he still had the top half of the phone on him when he was arrested.
The Rev. Richard Carlino, pastor at St. John the Evangelist, said Monday the employee did not want to be identified. He described the man as a part-time employee who was previously a longtime volunteer at the church.
Carlino said he’s not surprised that the employee intervened.
“He’s a wonderful person,” he said. “He was thinking not of himself, but of the safety of other people.”
Torres was charged with second-degree harassment, a violation, in connection with the altercation with the woman. He also faces one count of third-degree robbery, a felony, along with two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief and one count of fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, misdemeanors, in connection with the phone theft.
The mischief counts relate to breaking the phone and preventing an emergency call.