Four-time World Poker Tour champ Darren Elias was the target of a burglary on Thursday, but the scary part of the incident was not that someone broke into his Medford, New Jersey home. It was that he held a 19-year old babysitter, who was taking care of Elias’s two-year old daughter, at gunpoint. Fortunately, all involved were unharmed.
As one might guess, Elias and his wife were not home at the time. According to reports, the suspect is 24-year old Shannon Soroka from Philadelphia, a man who is also known to play poker. One poster on Two Plus Two said he has played with him at Sugarhouse Casino, Parx Casino, and the Borgata, and from his limited interaction, seemed like a nice enough guy.
The poker connection is likely how Soroka knew who Elias was and where he lived.
“I would say he was familiar with what I do for a living and thought that I might have things of value in the house,” Elias told Philadelphia’s NBC 10.
Soroka allegedly forced his way into the house and led the babysitter around with a gun to her back while he searched for cash and items worth stealing. He then locked her in a bathroom , but she was able to escape via a window and call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s house. There is no word on where Elias’ daughter was during the robbery, but neither she nor the babysitter were physically harmed.
Soroka fled via car and was arrested the next day after Medford Township Police were provided with a tip; it sounds like he did not wear a mask, as one might think to do when robbing someone who might know them (or who might not). It has not been reported if he knew Elias would be gone. That Soroka wielded a gun would make one think he either expected someone to be home or he just didn’t know one way or the other.
Over weekend, Elias tweeted, “Appreciate all the support and everyone who has reached out during this nightmare. No worse feeling than having your family in danger.”
In a Facebook post, Chief Richard J. Meder said that Soroka was being transferred to the Burlington County Jail and was being charged with “Robbery, (3) counts of Burglary, Aggravated Assault, Terroristic Threats, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Restraint.”
As mentioned, Darren Elias has been wildly successful in live tournaments, nabbing four World Poker Tour titles and eleven WPT top-ten finishes. He won two titles and had eight cashes in the 2014-2015 season, but somehow finished a fairly distant second in the WPT Player of the Year race to Anthony Zinno (who had two titles and seven cashes). Oddly enough, Elias has no World Series of Poker bracelets. All told, in live tournaments alone, he has won more than $7.1 million.
Elias almost earned his fifth World Poker Tour crown this month when he finished third in the L.A. Poker Classic Main Event.