Victims of violent convenience store robbery see outpouring of support

Victims of violent convenience store robbery see outpouring of support
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 76-year-old convenience store owner who was seen on surveillance video being choked out by a robber has returned to work, just two days after the violent attack.

As word spread that she was back on the job, a steady stream of customers and friends began to stop by the Y-7 Grocery & Liquor Store off Gulick Avenue to wish her well and offer help.

"Mama-san, how are you? Is your head sore?" asked Cheryl Aiwohi, a long-time customer and neighbor.

"My head is sore," replied owner Maria Kim.

"We'll always watch you. You're our family that's why," Aiwohi said.

On Tuesday, hours after the surveillance video of her attack went viral, two of the suspects turned themselves into police. Several others are still on the loose.

Kim was surprised to learn that two people were already caught.

She says all the attention she's getting since her attack has been a little overwhelming.

"Some customers brought flowers and some food. I am very happy and very sorry too, that I made everybody worry," she said.

Kim was released from the hospital Tuesday night, around the same time her store was robbed for the third time in less than a week.

"I'm a litle shocked that she's at work today," said Aiwohi. "She's here. She's a strong woman. This means those kupuna that we have in our community -- these mom and pop stores -- they're going to stand for what they believe in. This is their store. This is their livelihood."

Kim says she had no choice but to come back to work, but she did say she's still rattled by the experience.

"I cannot speak. I fall down. No feel good. No good," Kim said.

Her husband, Yongson Kim, shares her fear and frustration. The 74-year-old was working when the store was robbed last Friday.

"They come inside with a stick. A knife," he said.

Kim believes the suspects must have known about his surveillance cameras, because they were wearing masks.

He got angry when describing how the suspects reached over the counter into his money drawer. "Not too much money. Then, they run away," he said.

But three more guys came back on Monday, when just his wife was working.

"That's when my wife -- he grabbed her neck. She fell down. Now, she has big problems with her head," Kim said.

The Kims are hopeful all the robbers will be caught. In the meantime, they say they're very appreciative of their community's support.

"Some man come inside and only buy two candies but he give me $100. He said no change. You keep it for me," Kim said. "I said, no thank you -- but he was already heading out. Thank you so much, very much."

The Kims have owned their convenience store for more than 20 years.

A few years back, they attempted to sell it because they said trouble in the neighborhood started increasing. For now, they plan to keep it open.

Anyone with information on convenience store robberies is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300. You can also text *CRIME on your mobile device.

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