Sledgehammer beating of Miami store owner caught on surveillance tape

Screen grab of surveillance video of man sought in beating, robbery of a Miami store owner, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011
CBS Miami

(CBS) MIAMI - Miami police are looking for a man they say was caught on surveillance video attacking a store owner with a sledgehammer, striking him six times on the back of his head, before fleeing with two cartons of Marlboro cigarettes worth $12.

It happened early Monday afternoon in the Little Havana neighborhood, according to CBS Miami. Police said the man entered the store with the pretense of buying two gallons of milk. Suddenly, he pulled a spray bottle from his pocket and sprays the victim with an unknown chemical.

As the victim rubs his eyes, the suspect walks around the counter and starts his attack.

The victim, 44-year-old Yui Kui Cen, has been unconscious since the attack. Police say he is in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

"He comes in and uses spray in my husband's eyes and then he hit him with a hammer. You know he beat him in the head several times," Cen's wife told CBS Miami.  "He looked like he was trying to get his life. I don't know what happened. He's crazy. I need the public's help to find this guy."

They have owned and operated the store, Alex's Mini-Market, for the past six years. The victim's wife said they have been robbed before, but never attacked.

"He's got to be very cold blooded to do something like this," Cen's wife told CBS Miami. "My husband never did anything to anybody. In our neighborhood, everybody knows us. They love us."

"My experience is thast this individual knew what he wanted and he knew what he was doing. This was planned," said Detective Fernando Bosch of the Miami Police Department's Homicide Unit.

The surveillance tape showed a man who police described as a white male, in his 50s or 60s, roughly 5'8" tall and about 170 pounds. He was wearing a light-colored cap, a buttoned-down shirt, a grey hooded sweater and black pants.

If you know anything at all about this case, call Miami Police or Miami-Dade Crimestoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).