La Mesa

LMPD Still Leaning on Public for Help Solving Crimes From Night of Rioting

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Since May 30, the night rioting, arson, and looting overtook mostly peaceful protests in La Mesa over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis, the La Mesa Police Department said it has arrested or charged 25 people for crimes related to the night of civil unrest.

On Monday, the department renewed its plea to the public for help identifying persons of interest in more than 50 crimes the department says were committed that night.

One in question was a burglary at a downtown jeweler Pierre's Jewelry.

In June the department released still images of "subjects" taken from surveillance cameras at the store and asked the public for help identifying them. LMPD did not provide descriptions or accuse the subjects of any crimes.

A La Mesa business owner shared shocking video on Monday of looters breaking into his jewelry store during rioting on Saturday night, reports NBC 7's Lauren Coronado.

Anyone with information is asked to email, call LMPD at (619) 667-7532, or contact Crime Stoppers’ anonymous tip line (888) 580-TIPS.

Of the 25 people arrested or charged in connection to crimes on the night of May 30, which include arson, burglary, looting, rioting, possession of a firearm, and felony vandalism, LMPD says four were La Mesa residents and 21 lived elsewhere in the county.

The owner of Pierre's Jewelry shared security footage that showed a large group breaking into his shop, smashing his display cases and pocketing valuable items.

“I could see people breaking into the door, breaking showcases," said owner Samir Pierre Farhat. "It was devastating, actually.”

Samir has sold jewelry in La Mesa for more than 40 years.

"We built it from the ground up," Samir said.

The shop was their piece of the American dream, an effort undertaken after escaping violence in Lebanon.

“I experienced the civil war," Samir said, adding that his experience there "looked like this."

Samir said that the chaos in La Mesa on Saturday brought back emotional memories.

“I didn’t want to raise my children in a chaotic place like that, so I thought here was a better place," Samir said. "It is a better place, no matter what.”

Fortunately for Samir and his family, the most valuable jewelry in the shop was stored securely elsewhere when the looters broke in. He said he was working with his insurance company on compensation for damages and the looted items.

Despite the traumatizing events, Samir and his wife and three children have found reasons to remain positive.

“After the incident happened, a lot of people came to help,” Samir said.

Suzanne Laterreur, owner and operator of Honey and Hive Salon just across the street from Pierre's, was shaken by the night of destruction.

"We were pretty terrified for the whole neighborhood to be honest," Laterreur said. She's hoping police can help bring justice to those who did the community harm.

"If we don't do something they got a free pass," she said.

Laterreur's salon didn't suffer the same damage, but she lost a stylist who was working that night and terrified he won't come back. She, like many of her small business neighbors, find themselves looking over their shoulder much more these days.

"Whatever intention they had was not fulfilled and if there aren't some kind of consequences it can happen again," she said.

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