A restaurant owner was hospitalized Tuesday night after being repeatedly beaten in the head with a plastic crate by a man trying to steal a tip jar, according to a police report.
According to police report, the suspect first went inside the adjoining convenience store, 7 AM Market, asking to exchange coins for dollar bills.
The man then left and returned with a woman. The couple then walked into the restaurant side of the business, where the woman began talking about needing money for something to do with her grandfather and asked the owner’s wife for water.
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When the wife replied that water cost 50 cents, the woman grabbed the tip jar next to the register, the report states.
The wife grabbed it back when the suspects then tried unsuccessfully to get to the money inside the restaurant’s register.
The owner, 42-year-old Le Trong Nguyen, asked the two suspects to leave when they grabbed the tip jar again and a struggle ensued between the suspects and victims.
During the struggle, the male suspect grabbed a hard plastic crate used for shipping drinks and began hitting Nguyen with it in the head and face around 30 times, his wife told police.
The suspects fled with an estimated $20 to $30 dollars from the tip jar.
Responding police found the restaurant in disarray with booth seats and tables knocked over, blood on the floor and walls and the owner’s face, head, arms and clothing covered in blood.
Nguyen was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
No arrest had been made as of Wednesday morning, according to the report.
Brina Drewry, who frequents the Nguyen’s convenience store and has eaten at their restaurant “more than I’d like to admit” since they added it to the location less than a year ago, expressed shock that someone could attack the friendly owners.
Drewry recalled how, in January, she was approached by a strange man, asking if she had a boyfriend, as she walked to the nearby store.
“It scared me so I went inside and I was talking to the owner’s wife and I told her what was happening,” Drewry said. “She was very worried. I said, ‘I think he’s gone. I’m going to go’ but she said no. She told her husband, Le, who was in the restaurant area, what was happening. … He decided he would just walk me home because he was worried the guy was just around the corner.”
Drewry said she often talked to the owner’s wife about her impending marriage and move out of state.
“She was so sad,” Drewry said. “She said, ‘I don‘t feel like I’m just losing a customer. I feel like I’m losing a friend.’ ”
“They’re such great people,” Drewry added. “I hate that this happened.”