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GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- The owner of Shirley Express convenience store here confronted a robber, but showed mercy after the man burst into tears and said he was only trying to support his family.
After grabbing a rifle he kept behind the counter, Mohammad Sohail gave the bat-wielding man $40 and a loaf of bread and made him promise never to rob again, according to a report by The Associated Press.
"This was a grown man, crying like a baby," Sohail told the news agency.
The man dropped the bat, took the bread and tucked the $40 into his waistband before leaving, according to Suffolk County police Sgt. John Best.
Sohail, who moved to the United States from Pakistan two decades ago, was closing his store near midnight May 21, when the man entered with a bat in his hand. Sohail told the AP he tried to stall for a moment, grabbed the gun and then ordered the would-be robber to drop the bat.
The man dropped to his knees and begged for forgiveness, Sohail said. "He started crying that he was out of work and was trying to feed his hungry family. I felt bad for him. I mean, this wasn't some kid."
The man told Sohail he was inspired by the act of mercy and wanted to become a fellow Muslim. Sohail led the man in a profession of Muslim faith, the retailer recounted, and the two shook hands.
Sohail went to the back of the store to get some milk to give to the man, but when he returned the man had fled. The c-store operator reported the attempted robbery, but said he doesn't want to press charges if the man is ever caught.
Detectives reviewed a store surveillance video of the attempted holdup, but doubted the assailant would be identified because he was wearing a mask, according to the report. Sohail, who had never been the victim of a robbery attempt, said he didn't expect any accolades for what he had done.
"I'm a very little man. I just did a good job," said the married father of one. "I have a good feeling in my heart. I feel very good."
Sohail's customers told a local newspaper the c-store operator is a respected man in the community. The retailer's actions were in character, according to one patron. "Even when I didn't have money for a pack of smokes, he'd say 'Go ahead, go for it,'" Prudence Ferrante, who works next door in a carpet store, told Newsday."Some people have hearts, some people don't, but I know he does."
Sohail said he knows how it feels to have problems with money and that his own financial woes prompted him to have sympathy for the masked would-be robber. The c-store operator has five open tax warrants issued by the state Department of Taxation and Finance for sales tax, according to the newspaper. The tax warrants total $137,331.28.
Sohail said he is working on paying down his own debts. "Everybody has a hard time sometimes," he was quoted as saying.
Sohail bought and sold a handful of stores since moving to America and has been at his current location for six months.
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