A Northeast Philadelphia man was abducted by masked gunmen early Sunday morning as he arrived home from Parx Casino and robbed of cash, a handgun, credit and debit cards, and house keys during an ordeal that included being driven somewhere and tied up during questioning, police said.
It happened less than three weeks after a central New Jersey pharmaceutical executive was followed home from Parx, in Bensalem, and was fatally shot as part of a robbery. Two Philadelphia-area men have been arrested in that case.
In Sunday’s case, a 46-year-old man told police that when he got home from Parx about 1 a.m., he noticed a U-Haul van parked in front of the house on the 600 block of Adams Avenue. After parking, he walked toward the house and was grabbed by three males wearing gloves and masks and put into the back of the van, police said.
He was taken to a basement at an unknown location, where he was tied up and his abductors demanded to know where he hid money in his home as other accomplices searched the residence, according to police. They did not say how many people participated in that search.
After an undisclosed amount of time, police said, the victim told them he was put back in the van and let out near Ninth and Wellens Streets in Olney. The man said he walked home from there, about a 2½-mile walk, and then called police just after 6 a.m.
He told police an undisclosed amount of cash was taken from his person and his home, along with a 9mm handgun, several debit and credit cards, a pair of sneakers, and several house keys.
The victim told police that at least two of his abductors had guns, and that one pointed it at his head and threatened to kill him if he called police, authorities said.
The investigation is being handled by the Special Victims Unit. No other information was available about the victim or the four men police say were involved. Each of them wore full masks that covered everything but their eyes, police said.
In the earlier episode, police responded shortly after 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 26 to a report of shots fired at a home on Briardale Court in Plainsboro Township, Middlesex County. They found Sree Aravapalli with multiple gunshot wounds. The 54-year-old CEO of Aurex Laboratories, which is headquartered in East Windsor, near Princeton, was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after.
Devon Melchor, 26, of Upper Darby, and Jekai Reid-John, 27, of Norristown, have been charged in Aravapalli’s death.
The NBC affiliate in New York reported that Aravapalli, a married father of two, was seen cashing out about $10,000 in winnings before leaving the casino.
Surveillance video from Parx showed two men near him in the casino throughout the night, the Bucks County Courier Times reported, citing court documents, and that one used a debit card there belonging to Reid-John.
A white BMW followed Aravapalli home, and a matching vehicle was found parked outside Reid-John’s residence, the Courier Times reported. Police conducted searches of the car and residence and found clothing matching what one of the men at the casino was wearing.
Reid-John is charged with first-degree murder, and Melchor with armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.