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Two Arrested In Shooting Of Pole Who Came To America To Help Son

June 22, 1987

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (AP) _ Two men have been arrested in the shooting of a Pole who came to the United States to earn money for an operation for his crippled son, police say.

″The robbery squad feels it’s a bit of a Father’s Day present for him,″ police spokesman Bill Kiley said of the arrests late Saturday and early Sunday.

John Ray Rose, 22, and William Tyrone Duff, 24, both of Riverhead, were charged with second-degree attempted murder and attempted robbery, accused of shooting Witold Wroblewski on June 4 at a gas station just outside Riverhead, about 75 miles east of New York, officials said.

″They wanted him to die,″ said Suffolk County Police Lt. John J. Horan.

He identified Rose as the alleged gunman and Duff as the driver of the getaway car. Both were unemployed, he said, and Duff had been released from prison in February after serving time for robbery.

Police were led to the men by another man who had been in the car that night, he said.

The man waited in the car during the attempted robbery, then asked what happened at the station and was told, ″We just wasted that guy at the Metro station,″ police said.

A police car pursued the getaway car shortly after the shooting, apparently for a traffic infraction, but lost it, Horan said the informant told police.

If convicted, Rose and Duff face from 25 years to life on the attempted murder charge and 15 years to life on the attempted robbery count, Horan said.

Both were held without bail after pleading innocent, officials said.

No charges are expected against the informant, Horan said. He said the two men arrested had provided written confessions with prosecutors present.

Wroblewski was working at the station to raise $15,000 for an operation that would enable his 7-year-old son, Wojtek, to walk.

The boy has had four operations in Poland, but needs medical techniques not available in that country. Wroblewski came to the United States because his $30-a-week salary in Poland covered only living expenses.

The shotgun blast tore away most of his chin and lower jaw.

He remains at University Hospital at Stony Brook in stable condition.

Meanwhile, people touched by his plight have contributed nearly $60,000, Horan said, and at least five hospitals have offered to treat Wroblewski’s son for free, Horan said.

The lieutenant said he has called some people around the country who donated to the Wroblewski fund to personally thank them.

″You guys are all right out there,″ he said he was telling them.

Wroblewski, in an an interview last week, said the generosity of other Americans was likely to make him forget ″these bad men who shot me.″

Horan said he was ″proud as punch″ of the officers who helped make an arrest in the case.

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