By Ben Fractenberg, Patrick Hedlund and Nicole Bode
LOWER EAST SIDE — An Orchard Street shopowner was rushed to the hospital with head trauma Tuesday evening after he was body slammed through a glass window while trying to stop a pair of would-be shoplifters, police said.
The man, who neighbors identified as Richard Ives, was with co-owner Brian Bennett inside the Pilgrim vintage clothing and art store at 70 Orchard St. near Broome Street when a pair of young men entered the store just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, police said.
A police source said one of the men tried to steal a $2,500 vintage purse, prompting Ives to confront him. When Ives grabbed one of the young men to keep him from leaving, the suspect body slammed him into the front window glass, shattering it onto the sidewalk and leaving them both wounded.
"I was holding (Ives') head while he was bleeding," said Niko Liakaris, 28, who works at the Dressing Room Boutique across the street.
Fire department officials confirmed they transported a man in his 40s to Bellevue Medical Center from the store.
Ives and Bennett opened the store in July 2009, with a ready-to-wear design line, vintage clothing and jewelry, and art, according to a press release, after spending their careers in high fashion photography.
Ives has been a stylist and designer for high fashion photographers like Richard Avedon and fashion lines like Ellen Tracy and Donna Karan, according to the release. Bennett founded the photography agency Lamprecht & Bennett and collects ceramics, pottery and glass, the release says. The pair had a store in Woodstock before moving to the Lower East Side, according to reports.
Liakaris said shoplifting has been a problem on the block for years, and said he'd also been the victim of theft several weeks earlier when someone stole a Fendi bag from his shop.
Another store owner, who only gave his name as Chuck, said a man came into his boutique across the street from Pilgrim just minutes before the other attack, asking for a disposable bag.
Chuck said he refused, because the man appeared suspicious, and the man went across the street and went into Pilgrim along with several others, including a woman.
Chuck said he shouted across the street, "Hey, you ripped them off," just as a struggle ensued that sent them through the window glass.
"It was brutal, man," Chuck said.
James Fry, who works across the street at Cafe Katja, said he gave chase after the men who fled the store, one of them bleeding. A police source said one of the robbers suffered a deep gash in his arm from the glass.
Fry, 35, said he immediately gave chase.
"I just took off running after them," he said. "We're all friends on this block."