Bodega owners across New York City to receive special firearm training for self-protection
Bodega owners across New York City are receiving special firearm training to protect themselves as their shops continue to be the target of violent crime.
The United Bodegas of America announced they have formed a “secret society” tasked with training the shop owners and then helping them apply for licenses to carry.
The UBA says the training is done by duly authorized instructors. They consist of members of the armed forces and former law enforcement officers.
The initiative comes as the neighborhood staples are often the scene of armed robberies and even murders.
In September, police say two people walked into a bodega on Scholes Street in Williamsburg, demanded cash and shot an employee in the hand.
Mostafa Said works at the bodega where it happened. He keeps a knife and pepper spray behind the counter.
"This is business, and this is my life and my life is first," Said explained.
“The brutality bodega owners have endured in the past 10 years is unlike anything we have seen since the early 70s. We have lost our businesses, our dignity and our livelihood to criminals," said Radahmes Rodriguez, the president of UBA.
Past instances have shown that many victims often try to seek refuge inside bodegas. In 2018, 15-year-old Lesandro Junior Guzman Feliz ran inside a Bronx bodega for shelter before he was brutally murdered. It's thought this secret society can also help in cases like that.
"I'd feel safer and I think the owners have the right to protect their stores," said Yasmin Hakimi, a resident of Williamsburg.
The UBA is now urging criminals to think twice.