Convenience store owner Mohammad Sohail, after pulling a weapon on the would-be crook, sent the weeping man home with $40 and a loaf of bread upon hearing he was broke and unemployed.
“He started crying,” Sohail recalled Tuesday at the Shirley Express Convenience Store. “He said, ‘I’m sorry. I have a family. I have no money for food. I have no job.'”
The unidentified masked bandit was not so contrite seconds earlier, when a surveillance camera caught him waving a bat at Sohail while demanding cash in the 12:35 a.m. robbery on May 21.
“I said, ‘Hold on. Relax,'” said Sohail, who was just about to close up shop.
Rather than empty the register, the 46-year-old Pakistani immigrant reached beneath the counter and grabbed his licensed shotgun.
As Sohail came out to confront him, the robber dropped the bat, fell to his knees and folded his hands in prayer, the video showed. He begged for forgiveness, and explained his dire situation at home.
Sohail, against odds longer than his daily Lotto customers face, listened and let him go.
“I told him, ‘Promise me you’ll never rob anybody again,'” Sohail said. The robber quickly obliged. The owner then pulled $40 from his till, and told the man to grab a loaf of bread on the way out.
The instantly rehabilitated thief thanked Sohail, called him a good man and disappeared into the night. The whole thing was over in about two minutes.
“I feel really good because I helped someone,” Sohail said Tuesday. “Everyone should help each other. … I did this because he had problems. I don’t call myself a hero.”
Sohail called the police after the man fled from the store, but said he doesn’t want to press charges. The suspect’s face isn’t visible on the tape, making his apprehension unlikely.
Sohail, who lives in Shirley with his wife and 17-year-old son, said he was never scared – and with good reason.
“I have a gun,” he said.
He also had a lot of sympathy for the man, blaming the economy for forcing good people into bad decisions.
“Everybody should live the American Dream,” said Sohail, who opened his business six months ago. “Everyone should have a job so this doesn’t happen again.”