An Oakland liquor store owner in violence-besieged Chinatown shot into the air to stop the robbery of a woman in front of his shop, only to be arrested as police signaled that armed resistance to a crime wave won’t be tolerated.
The merchant was reportedly bailed out on Tuesday after being arrested for felony assault with a firearm. The arrest stemmed from an incident in which the 36-year-old man shot into the air four times after seeing a woman being violently robbed, prompting the alleged robber to run away with her camera.
“We don’t want our business owners or others to begin to arm themselves,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong told reporters on Tuesday. He said there could be unintended consequences when citizens shoot at alleged criminals, such as striking innocent bystanders or creating confusion when officers arrive on scene and try to identify an assailant. “We want them to observe and report,” he added, and “be good witnesses.”
But residents of the area have grown increasingly frustrated and fearful as violent crime escalates in Chinatown, prompting more business owners to arm themselves and enlist volunteer security patrols. In fact, with violent attacks rising in Chinatown and other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, safety concerns were so high that many businesses curtailed their operating hours, even in the leadup to last week’s Lunar New Year holiday.
In addition to robberies and other crimes targeting property, there has been a series of unprovoked attacks, including cases in which elderly residents were knocked to the pavement by young men. In one of those cases, an 84-year-old Thai immigrant was killed. In another, a 28-year-old black man allegedly shoved a 91-year-old Chinese man to the pavement, then attacked two other people of Chinese heritage on the same block.
A witness to Monday’s incident involving the liquor store owner told the local NBC TV affiliate that residents of the area see little choice other than defending themselves. “Here in this neighborhood, you get attacked on a 24/7 basis,” the man said. “This is ridiculous. We cannot live under such circumstances every day.”
Chinatown’s Chamber of Commerce has complained that many residents are reluctant to call the police when they see crimes because “nothing happens.”
“So the social worker didn’t get there in time?” one Twitter user said of Monday’s confrontation outside the liquor store. “Glad the other shop owner intervened.”
So.. the social worker didn’t get there in time..? Glad the other shop owner intervened..
— Deplorable Drac 2 (@2_drac) February 16, 2021
Oakland prosecutors are yet to determine whether to indict the armed liquor store owner.
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