CENTEREACH - A Centereach man who's being hailed as a hero for thwarting the robbery of an ice cream truck says his instincts led him into the woods to search for the alleged assailant.

Michael Rhatigan says he knew something wasn't right when he saw a Mister Softee truck moving along slowly at the intersection of Nichols and Hawkins roads.

"I knew he was looking for somebody," Rhatigan says.

According to authorities, at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, 42-year-old Robert Martone, of Centereach, jumped into the ice cream truck when it was stopped at a red light, brandished a gun and robbed the driver of cash.

Rhatigan never saw the alleged robbery, but says a gut feeling told him to go looking in the woods, where he ran into Martone.

"I said, 'Hey ? what did you do to the Mister Softee truck?" says Rhatigan.

After Martone took off, Rhatigan was able to catch up to him on a side street right outside the woods. He tackled him onto the hood of a car and, with his wife's help, wrestled him to the ground and waited for police.

Police officers arrived minutes later and arrested Martone, who was charged with robbery.