Charges filed in bodega hammer attack

May 16, 2008 3:05:30 PM PDT
Charges were filed Friday against the owner of a bodega in Brooklyn for hitting a teenager in the head with a hammer. The owner says he was trying to stop kids from shoplifting and from attacking his nephew. The family of the boy says he was trying to be a peacemaker.

It is a complicated and sad story. Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan has more.

Nobody involved in this story will escape without scars that will last a lifetime.

His home, packed with trophies, has all the evidence you will ever need to show the depth of the tragedy that unfolded on April 14. Bunkless Bovian was a star on the basketball court, even at just 15 years old. And now, he may never play again. He also might never go to school again.

"I can't go to school, I can't play basketball," he said. "It's difficult. That's all I do is play basketball."

And 36-year-old Salah Ahmad, a quiet, humble immigrant who works 18-hour days and has never been in trouble, suddenly faces 25 years in prison for what happened that day.

"Mr. Ahmad is innocent," his attorney, Gary Conroy, said. "Mr. Ahmad was defending himself."

Perhaps, but Ahmad was still indicted today on first-degree assault charges stemming from the incident inside his grocery store. Surveillance video shows a scuffle inside the store.

"His store is invaded by a gang," Conroy said. "They're wielding box cutters, that's beyond a doubt. They have a weapon, which they display to the clerk in the front of the store."

Whatever led to it, Ahmad ended up hitting Bovian in the head with a hammer. He was in a coma for days and now suffers seizures and has trouble speaking.

The teen's life was changed forever, and the store owner is facing decades behind bars. How could it come to this?

"We're just astonished," Conroy said.

If the case goes to trial, Bovian will not be much help. He has no memory of the event.