An El Cajon jewelry store owner injured in a violent assault by a hatchet-wielding suspect returned to work Tuesday, while his alleged attacker was arraigned on several charges, including attempted murder.
Carl Hamlin, 75, owner of Hamlin’s Jewelers on Fletcher Parkway, opened the doors to his business Tuesday but did not want to appear on camera for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.
Hamlin, who suffered multiple injuries in the attack, including a fractured skull, was hospitalized for two days last week. Now, nearly a week after the violent attack, Hamlin appeared in good shape. In a moment of brevity he told NBC 7 San Diego that he’s not a hero, he just has "mule’s blood."
On Jan. 22, just before 3:30 p.m., Hamlin was allegedly attacked by Travis Kelley, 24, at his small family jewelry shop.
According to El Cajon police, Kelley entered the store on a ruse to buy merchandise but his credit card was declined during an attempted transaction.
After that, investigators said things turned violent.
Hamlin told police Kelley became angry and pulled out a hatchet that had a hammer head on one of its ends. He then attacked Hamlin, striking him multiple times on the head with the hammer end of the hatchet.
Hamlin said his attacker was a “complete stranger.”
On Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Gordon Paul Davis said Kelley hit Hamlin on the head five to six times with the hatchet, fracturing his skull. Davis also said Kelley went in and out of the store three times before assaulting Hamlin, likely scoping things out before the attack.
After the blows to his head, Hamlin fell behind the counter. Police said the store owner pulled out a small handgun and pointed it at Kelley in self-defense. The pair then began fighting again as Kelley tried to grab Hamlin’s gun.
Kelley was able to wrestle the gun away from Hamlin. The suspect then fled the store on foot, with the victim’s gun, before police officers could arrive. He was last seen getting into a silver Toyota 4-Runner driven by alleged accomplice Ali Armeen Toombs, 21.
Investigators were able to track down both Kelley and his alleged accomplice. By Thursday, the men were in custody.
Both were arraigned in court Tuesday, each facing 13 charges, including attempted murder, armed robbery and elder abuse. While Toombs showed up to court for his arraignment, Kelley refused to leave his cell and did not appear in court, officials said.
Now, as Hamlin continues to recover, neighboring shops in El Cajon are banding together to raise funds to help cover Hamlin’s hospital bills and medical expenses.
This includes Rachel Gaiser, of Hess Family Jewelry and Loan, who has distributed flyers in the area letting the community know about the “Helping Hamlin” fund established for the beloved Hamlin’s Jewelers owner.
Those who would like to donate to the fund can do so via Paypal or by dropping off a check made out to Hamlin at the Hess Family Jewelry and Loan store in El Cajon, located at 2389 Fletcher Pkwy. #102.
Gaiser said many customers have already donated to the fund, with many coming into her work to ask how they can help.
The owners and employees of Hess Family Jewelry and Loan said Hamlin has been working in the El Cajon and La Mesa area for more than 45 years. They feel it’s important for the community to band together in support of Hamlin during this difficult time.