Ferguson Riots: North County Business Owners (Some Armed) Survey the Damage

tattooguns777.JPGRiver Front Times – by Danny Wicentowski

Nobody is robbing St. Louis Ink Tattoo Studio anytime soon. Or County Guns, for that matter.

The two north county businesses share a storefront in a Florissant strip mall less than ten minute drive from the epicenter of last night’s riots in Ferguson. After nightfall, what began as a community’s peaceful demonstration against the Ferguson Police Department’s shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown turned increasingly violent. Crowds plundered a QuikTrip and burned it to the ground, and local news began reporting brazen raids on other stores in the area.  

After hearing of the roving bands of looters, Mike Gutierrez knew he had to protect his tattoo shop. He brought a posse with him, including Adam Weinstein, owner of County Guns, who was acutely worried about criminals getting their hands on his merchandise.

“We didn’t want them coming in here and then running around with a bunch of free guns,” Weinstein told Daily RFT when we arrive at the store around 12:30 a.m. this morning. Weinstein was outfitted with an assault rifle, pistol and tactical vest. Gutierrez cradled his own rifle in his hands.

Gutierrez, Weinstein and their group arrived to find thieves tearing through a Dollar General in the same strip mall that houses their business. Weinstein says the looters attempted moving toward the shop, but were scared off by the guns. Then the police arrived.

“There were like two SWAT vans, two dozen cop cars,” said one woman. The cops apparently checked out the situation and then tore off to some other crisis.

“It is what it is,” said Gutierrez, summing up the situation. He adjusted the straps on a Kevlar bib that looked cartoonishly tiny compared to his bulk. “People just got too into their emotions.”

Danny Wicentowski
Up N Up Fashion was hit hard by looters who stole clothing and smashed mannequins.

Not all north county business owners had the luxury of taking such a philosophical approach to the chaos. At the other end of the same strip mall that houses Gutierrez and Weinstein’s business, 53-year-old Silas Chung arrived at his women’s clothing store, Up N Up Fashion, to find a pane of glass shattered and a mannequin lying on its back in the parking lot.

Inside the store, racks of newly stocked clothing had been stripped bare. Chung has endured a couple burglaries in the past nine years of running the store, but nothing comparable.

“They never break in like this before, so big like this,” he said.

Danny Wicentowski
The police arrested this guy near the Shop ‘n Save on North Florissant Road.

At least twelve businesses were hit by looters over the course of the night, reports KSDK. Daily RFT counted about a half dozen other store owners standing guard at their businesses, though none as visibly armed as Gutierrez and company. Some owners peered out from inside darkened shop windows, while others waited inside their cars in the parking lot.

Arrests continued throughout the pre-dawn hours. An attempted break-in at the Shop ‘n Save on North Florissant Road — less than three miles from the destroyed QuikTrip — ended with police detaining a man and tying him up. He or other looters also broke into a nearby Cricket Wireless.

The action appeared to calm by around 5 a.m. Police said they made 32 arrests during the riots.

Danny Wicentowski
The gas station at the intersection of Chambers Road and Florissant Avenue served as a major staging area for police on Sunday night.

Danny Wicentowski
Dollar General on West Florissant Avenue was also hit by looters.

Danny Wicentowski
A heavily armed SWAT team hung out at this Walgreen’s at Chambers Road and Florissant Avenue around midnight.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author atDanny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com


5 thoughts on “Ferguson Riots: North County Business Owners (Some Armed) Survey the Damage

  1. Same as the LA riots. Armed shopowners saved their stores while the cops hung back. Then they(the locals) wonder why there are no major stores left in places like Detroit. Talk about crapping on your own table. Will they ever learn?

  2. Let us take aclose look at what started this in the first place before we blame all here. have been in that area so I will put foreward a theory about how it could happen very easy. You have a unarmed teen walking down the street and a cop pulls up and smart mouths him. They are very good for that in that area. He says something back. and is told to walk to car. He does that. Cop jumos out on full mouth squill and hand going for gun because he has beenspoke to and is in full I don’t like mode. Had such happen to me more than once in that area of the U.S. Kid hits him and is shot and turns to run and throws hands up. And forthat is guned down and dead by officer smart mouth I am the Law! One of there favoret squills in that area. And the court will let me throwed in. Now you have a protest but Sunday inthe paper it was printed I read it twice were cheif large Hog before the investigation was compleat said My officer will be out o duty Monday and free and clear. Then the public protest started and the looting. So just maybe if all the facts are layed out like what led up to this murder by cop. He was unarmed and finished of after the confrentation was over and most would run if all you had were fist and feet in a gun battle remember the cop fired in the car here so run was called for. And not death by cop. So the police in use of tear gas can practice milittary manuvers on a unarmed civilian population there. I would have to say that this does look from all I see and have heard like a case of 80% Cop wrong so with 20% in hisfavor will walk away a hero on the force there as they proved they can get away with murder again. And a other person is guned down like a dog to them. Such is life around the American Police today. And they think the High Fine Swine Squill covers all they do wrong by the tax payer.

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