Eastgate Square shooting shakes family-owned business

When Sajid Ali heard his sister-in-law screaming inside of Fine Touch Jewelers in Eastgate Square Thursday night, he rushed to her aid instinctively. Seconds later, shots rang out inside the east end mall while he and other family members wrestled with a would-be robber.

Fine Touch Jewelers reopens after family apprehends suspect

Store owner Sajid Ali spent most of Friday morning cleaning up his store after two men tried to rob him Thursday night, sending the mall into lockdown. (Adam Carter/CBC)

When Sajid Ali heard his sister-in-law screaming inside of Fine Touch Jewelers in Eastgate Square Thursday night, he reacted without thinking.

It was a blood-curdling scream – the kind of scream someone makes when they’re in real trouble.

“We thought she was being assaulted from that scream,” the jewelry store owner said. “We rushed to protect her. She’s my blood.”

“My first thought was just to save her.”

If I give up, my family would be demoralized. But the human will has to be tested. That’s how life is. Nothing is planned.- Sajid Ali, Fine Touch Jewelers

And she needed saving. Around 8:30 p.m. Thursday night, two men walked into the family-owned business with a bag of burglary tools. According to police, one man brandishing a hammer walked behind a display case and started grabbing merchandise.

That’s when Ali’s sister started screaming for help, while the rest of the store’s employees were in a back room in the middle of a repair. Her family members rushed to her aid, grabbed the man and started wrestling with him. They managed to apprehend him and hold him until police arrived. He didn't say how many family members were involved in the struggle.

“Everything happened in a flash,” Ali said, noting that police have asked him not to speak about the details while the investigation is ongoing. “We can’t even recall. It happened in seconds.”

Family apprehends suspect

While all this was going on, police say, a second suspect who was armed with a gun was standing at the store’s entrance. He fired the gun before running out of the mall, and was last seen getting into a car and speeding away. Once police arrived, the mall was locked down, as terrified shoppers fled the scene.

Police dogs were brought in to search for a man who was involved in a violent robbery attempt at Eastgate Square last week. He is still at large. (Dave Ritchie/CBC)

Police wouldn’t say how many shots were fired, or if they hit anything – but did say no one had been injured by a gunshot wound.

The same couldn’t be said for the first suspect, who sustained non-life threatening injuries in the struggle with Ali and his family. He was arrested and taken to hospital. Ali and his family ended up with some minor injuries as well. A cut could be seen just above his left ear Friday morning, as he and the rest of his family cleaned up their shop.

Police have not yet identified the suspect they have in custody, as he is not cooperating with investigators. The second man is still at large. Heavily-armed police officers and police dogs could be seen scouring the east end of the city Thursday night looking for him.

2nd suspect still at large: police

Police have said they don’t believe there is a risk to public safety, but Ali isn’t so sure. “That’s scary for society, because it’s somebody with a gun,” he said. “It’s very scary. He’s on the loose.”

“The individual might hurt somebody. He might injure or kill somebody. He has a dangerous weapon.”

The family hasn’t yet taken stock of everything in their shop to make sure nothing was missing, Ali says. Right now, they’re just trying to get their bearings and support each other after a terrifying incident.

Ali, who is the oldest of them, feels the burden of rallying everyone rests on his shoulders. “If I give up, my family would be demoralized,” he said. “But the human will has to be tested. That’s how life is. Nothing is planned.”

“Life is a tragedy if you feel, and a comedy if you think.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police at 905-546-2991 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


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