LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Fairfax District shoe store, popular with celebrities like Halle Berry and Sylvester Stallone, was gutted by fire, believed to have been set by looters.
Now, the 81-year-old immigrant who owns the store is speaking out about why he won’t turn in the looters to the police.READ MORE: LA County Parks Re-Opens Its Junior Lake Lifeguard Program
The destruction at the Dr. Martens store on Melrose was more than just a business to owner Ned Harounian. His son said it was his father’s living room.
“Friends would come in. He would make them tea, and he would sit right here and they would play backgammon. When you walked in here, you felt like you went to someone’s house,” said Harounian’s son Ebbi.
Harounian, who fled Iran after the revolution, has been on Melrose for more than 30 years.
After being closed for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harounian was in his store cleaning up before riots began in the Fairfax District.
“He was in here cleaning up and putting stuff away, cleaning the windows, dusting the shoes and he calls me and said, ‘Ebbi, after two months, we are going to open tomorrow.'”
That night, looters raided the store. The moment they broke in was captured on video posted to Youtube. The building later caught fire, which quickly gutted the store.
“I ask why? Why fire? This is life for somebody,” said Harounian.
The Harounian family doesn’t have insurance and all of their inventory is now gone.READ MORE: Pageant Of The Masters, Newport Beach Jazz Festival Announce 2021 Dates
“I am thinking probably half a million dollars at a wholesale price. What we paid for it,” said Ebbi.
Harounian also had his late wife’s belongings in the store, including her wedding ring.
Ebbi said his dad kept her things at the store because he spent more time at work than at home.
When asked what he lost, Harounian said, “Everything. My life. Everything.”
A wallet was found at the back door. The family believes it belonged to one of the looters.
“It’s a 21-year-old boy. I don’t want to take him to the police. I want him to come stand next to my dad for two weeks, and see how hard it is to make $100.”
There is now a GoFundMe page for the Harounian family. It has more than $80,000 in donations.
“What has helped lift his spirit is because people care.”
Even though he is 81, this will not be Harounian’s retirement. He hopes to lease a space across the street and get back to business as soon as possible.MORE NEWS: 2 Long Beach Grocery Stores Shutting Down Saturday Over Hero Pay Law
His family said without it, he will have no income coming in.