Business owners on edge after recent attacks

December 23, 2010 2:54:20 AM PST
Two days after an east Houston jewelry store owner opened fire on three robbery suspects, killing them, something similar happened a little more than two miles away on Canal and 76th. A grocery store owner killed one man and the other was arrested.

Neither the jewelry store owner nor the grocery store owner will be charged with a crime, and while their methods of protection may seem extreme, other business owners say it's necessary.

One community leader tells Eyewitness News she thinks the majority of business owners are armed, and we've learned some are even allowing their employees to carry if they have a concealed handgun license. Many believe law enforcement is doing what it can, but it's still not enough.

At Keith's Auto Service in the east end, the tools of the trade aren't only in tool boxes these days.

"Any place in our office, there's probably a weapon somewhere," said the auto shop's owner, Roland Keith.

Keith says it's his reality, especially after two businesses were targeted last week just two days apart, forcing the owners to shoot to kill.

"They got what they deserved," he said.

Last Thursday, Roman Castillo killed three robbers inside his jewelry store on Canal after they forced his wife to the back room and tied her up. He was also injured in the attack. Then on Saturday, 30 blocks away, also on Canal, a grocery store owner opened fire on two suspected robbers. One died, and the other, Corey Taylor, is behind bars.

"If I was a business guy, I would be armed," Harris County Pct. 6 Constable Victor Trevino said.

Trevino's deputies patrol Canal and he takes these assaults personally.

"We've got to do a better job in law enforcement," he said. "They're part of this community that we're grateful for; to have someone come in to rob them is not just an assault on them but on our community."

He is reaching out once again to store owners by encouraging them to ask for help when depositing cash or locking up.

"I said get out of the car; go out there and go in there and let them know we're out here," Trevino said.

Violent crime is down 10 percent in the east end, but it's not all about the numbers, Trevino said.

"If there's one victim, we have a serious problem," he said.

Keith isn't relying on the numbers either. He'd rather rely on his secret stash of fire power, but does hope he won't have to use it.

"I think the last two incidents send out a pretty good message," he said. "I don't think it's a good place for people to be on Canal -- bad people, not at this time, no," he said.

Keith's Auto Service has been in business for 70 years. They've seen a lot of changes in their time and hope this violence isn't bad for business. They say they have gotten calls from customers asking what safety measures they're taking.


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