As New York City restarts its economy this week with phase one of the city’s reopening plan, several businesses that were devastated by looters last week find themselves in despair.
Jerry Shen and his daughter, Jessalyn know they will eventually have to sort through all of the mess that was left behind after looters ravaged the family’s pawn shop last Monday night. But for now, their main priority is Jessalyn’s 68-year old mother, Wendy, who opened the pawn shop 20 years ago.
Wendy Shen is in the ICU and is expected to have another surgery this week, after her family says she was attacked by looters and severely fractured her femur.
“They smashed our windows,” said Jessalyn Shen, who recently finished medical school. “They smashed the car doors to the point where you can’t even close them anymore and they started pulling us out one by one. They pulled my mom out and we tried to get her back in. They started attacking with crowbars and lead pipes and bricks, and in the process of trying to get my mom back into the car, they ended up breaking her leg.”
This nightmare began as the Shens left their home to drive to the store, after they received a security alert about a break-in. When the Shens and Jessalyn’s boyfriend went into the store, they tried but failed to get the looters to leave.
Fearing for their safety, they rushed back to their car, where they were attacked.
“When we finally were able to get back into the car, they followed us,” said Shen, who says looters grabbed jewelry that was on her neck. “We drove down 188th trying to escape, they got back into their vans, and they tried to ram us off the road. We got down to Webster and they tried to crash into us multiple times!”
The Shens say they eventually made it to safety, when they approached a police barricade and begged the officer to save them.
With the police investigation ongoing, and with his wife suffering nightmares, Jerry Shen says he may try to re-open the shop on a short term basis, to tie up loose ends with customers. But he says who knows what the future holds.
“It makes you think, is it worth it?” asked Shen. “Maybe we just close the store and leave the community. It’s not worth your family’s life to keep the business going.”