By Sabina Mollot
Apel Tamagoglu, the 78-year-old tailor who was stabbed repeatedly during a robbery at his Kips Bay shop, has been in tough spots before. In fact, he was once shot in the hand during another holdup, he said this week.
Tamagoglu, a Turkish citizen as well as a citizen of the United States, said the other robbery happened 15-20 years ago; he can’t quite remember exactly when. But he did recall how the gunman had come in and asked if he could fix a velvet suit. The robber later went to prison, Tamagoglu said, adding that the man had also robbed many other people.
Asked if he’d thought about calling it quits after that incident, Tamagoglu, a native of Istanbul, said no. In his heavily accented English, he explained, “I have to work. I have to help the kids.”
Apel (pronounced Ah-pell) has two grown daughters as well as three grandchildren ages 10, 15 and 22.
He also downplayed the previous armed robbery, saying, “The hand is no problem.”
Tamagoglu said since the recent stabbing, during which he had his skull fractured, his lung punctured and suffered other injuries, he’s been receiving care at Bellevue Hospital, though he’s now at home. He also said he’s trying to do some work at the shop, albeit slowly, since he lives upstairs. “I feel good, thank God,” he said.
Though he has insurance, the tailor admitted he doesn’t know how much of his medical care will be covered, so he’s been hugely appreciate of an online fundraising campaign a neighbor recently organized.
The neighbor, Evan Rofheart, is an admin of a neighborhood Facebook group called Third and 33rd (and Beyond), where he recently announced he’d given Tamagoglu his first check for $2,500. The full amount crowd-funded so far has reached close to $3,500, but Rofheart said he was still waiting for the rest of the donations to clear.
“Thank you, thank you very much,” Tamagoglu told Town & Village to relay to his neighbors. “For them to worry about me, I appreciate it again and again. God bless.”
Tamagoglu came to this country in 1970 and opened his business in 1975.
Rofheart, after visiting Tamagoglu on Monday, later said that the businessman had actually been robbed five times over the years.
“Every time he’s been robbed he’s fought back,” Rofheart said.
In the recent robbery, which occurred on January 23, one news outlet got footage of Tamagoglu chasing the suspect, since identified as homeless ex-con John Franklyn, from the shop with a chair. However, after being stabbed multiple times, Tamagoglu turned over $80 in cash to his attacker.
Franklyn, who has a lengthy rap sheet and who had been staying at the 30th Street men’s shelter, has been charged with attempted murder.
To contribute to the fundraising campaign for Tamagoglu, visit the You Caring page. The page, authored by Rofheart, notes that Tamagoglu is the definition of a neighborhood fixture, working seven days a week, 12 hours a day, to earn a living.