A La Mesa business owner shared shocking video on Monday of looters breaking into his jewelry store during rioting on Saturday night.
The video shows rioters breaking open his front door and damaging much of Pierre's Jewelers in the East County city's downtown village.
“I could see people breaking into the door, breaking showcases," said business 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 Saturday's 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.
In fact, hundreds turned out on Sunday and many again on Monday to help La Mesa clean up and, hopefully, turn the corner on Saturday's disturbance. One message on the plywood temporarily installed over broken windows said, "Support Small Business and Rebuild La Mesa."
“We’ve all come out to clean, to paint, to rebuild,” said La Mesa resident Lynne Castro on Monday.
Samir and his family had been preparing for weeks to welcome back their customers safely, finally reopening after months of COVID-19 closure.
“I just want to go back to normal, if we can, and I'm sure we will," said Beatrice, Samir's wife. "With faith and hard work, we’ll make it again.”