Two men subdue knife-wielding robber

April 1, 2008 5:08:51 PM PDT
It's a story they'll be talking about for a long time in Ridley Township: The courageous act to disarm a knife wielding shoplifter who was attacking the clerk at a CVS.

Not only did they subdue the alleged bandit, but they may have also saved the clerk's life.

It's the last thing they expected while shopping on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Two unrelated men named Whelan, one of them a county councilman, brought together at the CVS on McDade Boulevard in a life or death struggle with a crazed shoplifter.

Photos from a surveillance camera tell just part of the story. A violent struggle with a man wielding a utility knife. It started when a manager caught him shoplifting. But, the man pulled the knife and started slashing.

Jack Whelan jumped in to help. He was joined by Gene Whelan, no relation. The men tumbled to the ground as they struggled to get the attacker off the store manager. Jack Whelan managed to slam his hand to the floor, knocking the knife free. It was a mighty struggle, but they finally managed to subdue the attacker.

The store manager was badly cut, and came within a centimeter of losing his life.

Gene Whelan was also injured. He went to the hospital today to get a fractured elbow taken care of.

The police say he and Jack are heroes. They both disagree.

The suspect is 49-year-old Cebrain Spence of Chester. He has been arrested before for shoplifting at the same drug store. Now he faces much more serious charges, including attempted murder and multiple assault counts. Police say he was high on drugs when he attacked the store manager and that's why it took three men to subdue him.

The store manager doesn't want to be identified, so we're protecting his privacy. His bosses say he is expected to make a full recovery, and they are extremely grateful to the two Whelans who came to his rescue.