Oakland merchants consider taking up arms

February 4, 2012 12:47:44 AM PST
The owner of a taco truck in Oakland is on the mend after being wounded in a shootout with robbers Thursday. He shot back and hurt one of his attackers.

If only this were an isolated incident in the neighborhood... So many people there have a similar story to tell. Business owners say they were not surprised by the shooting because there are lots of shootings and armed robberies in the neighborhood. Some business owners say they are considering arming themselves.

The "Tacos Y Mariscos El Mazatlan" truck remains closed because one of the owners, Omar Castillas is still in the hospital after a shootout with three robbers. One of Castilla's fellow neighborhood merchants hopes he makes a quick recovery.

"I hope he gets better soon," says Sabih Murshed who works at a nearby corner store. "I'm thinking about going to visit him at the hospital." Murshed says he knows some of the pain Castilla must be feeling. "Yeah, I was shot here before, down the street, Fruitvale. I was lucky you know, still walking." He was a bystander in a street shootout last year and his co-workers have been held up at gunpoint several times, most recently last month.

Businesses in the neighborhood say unfortunately, the shooting at the taco truck is nothing new. All of them have been held up or seen gun violence.

Video from a nearby self-service laundry's hidden camera shows the shooting. In the foreground 32-year-old Casillas is sweeping up the parking lot where the family truck has done business for 12 years. On the left two men come into view. According to police, the one with his arm extended is 19-year-old Sean Ward Morris of Oakland. He's accompanied by a 17-year-old who has not been identified. Police say Morris told Casillas to "be cool and give me what you've got." Casillas runs away and is shot twice in the back and once in the leg. He returns fire and shoots Morris twice, who writhes on the ground before stumbling away. Both men have non-life threatening wounds.

Just about every business in the area has a video surveillance system, but blanketing the neighborhood with 24-hour surveillance cameras is not the only step businesses are taking. "Yeah, we're going to try to get a gun or like a shock something, to be safe," restaurant owner Illeana Navarro says. Getting a gun or a stun gun is an option she is considering after a man recently walked into her restaurant and demanded the wallets from all of her employees and customers. The thief then smiled at her in the street the next day.

Navarro is especially frustrated after a shootout and robbery of businesses across the street last Wednesday. "And the police didn't come until Friday because nobody was hurt. That's it. They don't care. If nobody's hurt or bleeding or dead, they're not coming because they are short on police," she said.

Of the dozen business owners that spoke with ABC7 Friday, two said they do actually own guns and keep them in their stores. They chose not to go on camera because they do not want the criminals to know they are armed.

Load Comments