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Oakland Chinatown Shop Owner Arrested After Firing Handgun During Robbery

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- A store owner in Oakland's Chinatown ended up behind bars Monday night after using a handgun to fight back in the latest of a string of violent crimes in the neighborhood.

The spate of recent attacks and violent robberies in the area have raised tensions.

UPDATE Oakland Police Source: Detectives Reluctant To Arrest Store Owner Who Foiled Robbery With Gun

As they look for a way to cool things down in their community, Chinatown officials and police walked door to door Tuesday afternoon, assuring business owners that they are taking the recent series of violent robberies seriously.

"Because with one person being robbed, that can have a negative impact on someone watching that," said Oakland Police Capt. Bobby Hookfin. "Even though they're not the victim, they're kind of in a concentric circle of a victim, because they see someone being victimized. So that can resonate as well."

It resonated Monday night. At about 5:30 p.m., a liquor store owner saw a woman being robbed of her camera at the corner of Ninth and Franklin. After seeing the woman knocked to the ground, the owner ran out with a gun, ordering the assailant to stop and reportedly firing four shots.

The suspect fled in a vehicle, but when police arrived, they took the business owner into custody.

"When I talk to the entire community they feel sad that someone is trying to help others and ends up to be the one arrested or being in custody," said Carl Chan.

As head of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Chan has been working to calm nerves at the same time he is appealing for more police presence in the area. Armed security guards are already patrolling the streets, funded by donations from the public. Chan worries that without more cops, other business owners -- like the man who was arrested Monday -- will seek to deal with the problem themselves.

"So, I think many of the people feel strongly that we should be supporting the store owner," Chan said.

But he knows what will happen if his community becomes a place where safety can only come from the end of a gun.

"I am so worried because I heard the news that many people are trying to find ways to protect themselves," Chan explained. "And we do not believe that violence against violence is the way to go."

New Oakland Chief of Police LeRonne Armstrong also addressed the incident in a live Facebook video Tuesday afternoon.

OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong talks about Monday night's attempted robbery in Chinatown.

Chief Armstrong wants to thank the community members for coming forward in reporting crimes. However, he asks if you observe a crime to be good witnesses, call 911 and not put other's lives at risk.

Posted by Oakland Police Department on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Armstrong told gathered media that police want input from the public, but for safety reasons would rather people report crimes to the department instead of getting involved.

"Our message really is that we don't want to see our business owners or others begin to arm themselves," said Armstrong. "We would really prefer them to be good witnesses and give us the observations that they have; share that information, call law enforcement immediately and let OPD respond and follow up. What we really don't want to do is bring any additional issues that threaten safety into the equation."

Armstrong noted that officers often times are challenged when they have to determine who the suspect is when encountering armed citizens who are trying to intervene in a situation.

"Particularly, we don't want people to fire weapons into our community. When weapons are fired in our community, there could be unintended victims; people who are hit by gunfire. And we want to avoid that as much as we can."

Oakland Police confirmed in a statement that the man who fired the shots was arrested and said that the investigation into the incident was ongoing. It was mentioned during a question posed to Armstrong that the business owner did not spend the night in jail.

Anyone with more information on the incident is asked to call the Police Department's Robbery Section at (510) 238-3951.

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