Owner of Polish deli held up at gunpoint in Slavic Village

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland police are increasing patrols in Slavic Village after the owner of a Polish deli was held up at gunpoint in broad daylight.

Sophie Tyl is still visibly shaken after she says a man held a gun to her face and threatened to kill her as he demanded cash.

“I'm scared, I'm scared,” Tyl said. “I just feel, even now, the gun pointing to my head.”

Tyl, who has owned Seven Roses Polish Deli on Fleet Avenue at East 64th Street for nearly 15 years, said the restaurant was closed when a woman wearing a purple scarf knocked on the door and asked to speak with Tyl, according to a police report.

The police report states that after Tyl came to the door a man stepped into the doorway and pointed a black handgun at her head, ordering her to hand over money. She gave him about $600 in cash she had on her to pay utility bills, according to the report.

On April 28, someone broke into the deli and stole about $1,000 in food from a freezer, police said. Tyl said she is planning about $2,000 in security upgrades, and if that doesn’t help, she will have to close.

Others in the area have also been targeted recently with robberies and break-ins.

“This is just too much because it's so much happening, and then a couple days, then something else,” said Ania Poprzuski, an employee at the deli. “Something has to be done.”

Tyl said she thinks the only way crime will stop is if more police patrol the area. Cleveland Police confirmed 4th District officers are paying special attention to the neighborhood.

“I would definitely say having more police would be very helpful, but it's also up to all of us to keep an eye out for each other as well,” said Christopher Alvarado, Executive Director of the Slavic Village Development Corporation.

He said a group of Fleet Avenue stakeholders are planning a meeting to address the crime issue with police and neighborhood leaders.

“The way we address it is head on by engaging with one another, by working with the police and by attracting more businesses into the neighborhood and more residents who are really able to be better community members,” Alvarado said.

Ward 12 Councilman Tony Brancatelli said he is very angry about the recent robbery and called the recent number of crimes troubling, but said it appears they may be linked to a few individuals.

“We have been in constant contact with [4th District] Commander Kutz, and he has done a wonderful job in providing special attention to these trouble spots. We have had multiple cars on at the same time with an increased police presence,” Brancatelli wrote in an e-mail.

“We are making great strides in our neighborhood, new businesses coming in, new houses being built and old houses being renovated. This is the best security we can have, more people on the street, more residents using our parks and trails and more engaged residents and business owners.”