Bronx pawn shop owners violently beaten during looting riots

Lucy Yang Image
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Bronx pawn shop owners violently beaten during looting riots
Lucy Yang has more on a family who is speaking out after they were viciously attacked during the citywide lootings last week.

FORDHAM, Bronx (WABC) -- A family of jewelry store owners in the Bronx who were brutally beaten and robbed last week are speaking out.

Last Monday, on June 1, the Shen family got an alert from their security company that there was movement in their small pawn/jewelry shop on East 188th Street in the Bronx.

They had no idea Fordham was burning and they didn't know about the citywide looting until they drove up to their store.

The street was on fire, cars were on fire and garbage was on fire.

"I was so terrified, I had never seen violence like that before," said Jessalyn Shen.

The looters dragged a heavy safe out to the front of the store and forced it open.

"That safe had layaways, repairs, our engagement rings, diamonds, a lot of stuff," Shen said.

Shen says when they arrived, the crowd ran off. So she, her boyfriend and her parents went into the store to secure whatever was left. They were in the back room and had opened their big safe when another wave of rioters pounced.

"They came with weapons, they had crowbars and bricks and lead pipes," Shen said.

The family was trapped in the back room with the angry mob pouring in, but managed to shut the safe door. But when the owners tried to escape in their car, their nightmare turned violent.

The rioters pulled Shen's mother out of the car and attacked her -- breaking her leg and her nose.

"I was in the back seat and I got pulled out the trunk," Shen said. "They kept saying if we didn't give them everything they would take us."

Shen said they got back into their vans and trucks and followed the family down 188th Street as they tried to crash into the car and ram them off the road.

"We were finally able to speed past the fire and onto Fordham Road, that's when the police barricade surrounded us and got us to safety," Shen said.

Her mother has undergone several surgeries, and now no one can sleep at night.

Some customers are threatening to sue for their merchandise that was taken by the rioters.

The store's insurance is now balking at paying for lost inventory, which is why they have set up a GoFundMe page.

"Stealing is one thing but I never thought they would want to come after our lives," Shen said. "I was scared for parents' life, for my own life. I honestly believe if they were stuck there, they would've just killed us."

Shen just graduated from medical school and was looking forward to serving the Bronx community, where she grew up. But it's not clear if her parents will ever feel safe enough to reopen their humble neighborhood shop.

RELATED | Bronx pharmacy reopens week after store was devastated by looters

Lucy Yang has more on the family owned pharmacy that was ransacked by looters one week ago.

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