Warren County store owner describes robbery, shooting that nearly killed him

March 09, 2018 06:20 PM

HAGUE - It happened just five days after Jim Rypkema's seasonal store, The Hague Market, had opened for the year.

A woman named Christine Tomko walks into the store at about 4:15 in the afternoon on April 25, buys some chips and walks out. She comes back a few minutes later, followed by a man with a gun who was dressed in camo, his face covered with a bandanna and dark sunglasses covering his eyes.

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"As he came to the counter, he pointed the gun at my chest and said, 'Give me all the money in the register,'" said Rypkema.

That gun-toting bandit was Vito Campano. He was sentenced Friday for attempted murder and burglary.

During a victim impact statement, Jim Rypkema recounted what happened.

"He finished emptying the register, and as he walked around the corner he raised the gun and fired five times -- hitting me each time. I dropped to the floor and said, 'I can't believe you shot me,' Rypkema said, his voice quavering. "I saw my blood forming a puddle around me and I thought I was going to die."

The bullets shattered bones, but somehow missed vital organs.

Although he still only has partial use of one hand, surgeons referred to Rypkema as "Mr. Lucky."

"If it had not been for luck and or divine intervention, you would be sentencing this man for murder. My good fortune does not change his intent. And that was to kill me," Rypkema told the judge.

Campano took $350 from the register and instead of leaving right away, stopped to shoot Jim Rypkema five times with a .22 caliber handgun.

Judge John Hall sentenced Campano to a previously agreed to 30 years in prison. Prosecutors say he deserves every day of it.

"The defendant, according to all the evidence, for the thrill of it, attempted to murder Jim Rypkema," said Matt Burin, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case.

Campano said he was sorry. "Nothing I can say, or will say, will ever take back what I did. I'm sincerely sorry for hurting everybody that I did."

Jim Rypkema wasn't convinced. "He didn't tell me he was sorry. He was sorry for taking the money and not being able to pay it back. That doesn't mean anything to me."

Christine Tomko, Campano's fiancé and co-defendant, will be sentenced March 14 for her role in the crimes.


Mark Mulholland

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