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'Happening in front of my eyes': L.A. store owner describes seeing shop destroyed by looting

Hany Botros watched on closed captioned television as everything inside his smoke shop was lost to the unrest.
IMage: LA smoke shop
Looters in a smoke shop in LA destroyed the entire store on Saturday night.Courtesy Hany Botros

Everything inside Hany Botros’ smoke shop in Los Angeles was destroyed by looters with baseball bats on Saturday night.

Botros, the owner of the Smoke and Vape Depot, had only re-opened the store from the coronavirus lockdown five days prior to the incident.

As protests inspired by the death of George Floyd became more violent on Saturday, Bostros sent his employees home and locked up his store.

Later that evening he was watching the CCTV camera feed coming from inside the store when he saw 20-30 people break down the front doors with baseball bats and start smashing everything inside the store and stealing all the products.

Botros posted a video on Facebook where he showed the damage to the smoke shop.

“I was watching everything happening in front of my eyes. My son, who is 5-years-old, unfortunately watched what happened and saw my frustration, my wife was crying. It was one of the pains I will never forget,” Botros told NBC News.

Botros employs three people at the smoke shop, all African American, who he says are “now without a job.” Botros himself is an immigrant from Egypt and said, “I was with the protesters with my heart, because as an immigrant and minority I feel some profiling and racial bias.”

However, he called the looting “unbelievable” and added that the people who are looting stores are “opportunists” who “have nothing to do with the cause, they don’t know anything about it.”

Botros said he reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department to file a formal police report, but has not heard back at this time. He is waiting to clean up his store until the police survey the damage, but believes the loss of property and inventory amounts to around $200,000.

He set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to rebuild the business and has raised just over $4,000 at this point.

“I’m watching peaceful protesters trying to get the government to change what needs to be changed, but it will never be changed by destroying business and taking my livelihood and what I worked hard for,” Botros added.