"My message is, next time you do it, you're done."
That's what Connecticut convenience store owner Malik Ali has to say to the four robbers who held him up at gunpoint late last week in a violent encounter that was caught on camera.
According to police, four suspects entered the Dairy Market at 241 Silver Lane in East Hartford around 7:30 p.m. Friday. Two of the men had guns and lunged toward Ali.
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"One of them jumped over the counter. We entered into a fight, and at the same time, within seconds, another group came," Ali explained. "There were two guys, too. One of them had a big gun in his hand. I grabbed the gun from him and we had a fight."
The store owner said he fought hard to fend off his attackers. One of the robbers held a gun against Ali's stomach, but he wrestled it away from the suspect and ended up with little more than a few scratches.
Ali said he tried twice to call police but the calls didn't connect, so he took matters into his own hands.
"If you're a man, come face to face, you know? Fight like a man. You can give a gun to any kid and that's not the fight. You want to fight, fight like a man," Ali said.
When police finally arrived, Ali was holding one of the robber's guns and handed it over to the officers, he said. The robbers had run off.
Although Ali escaped serious injury, his store suffered a more serious blow. Police said the robbers made off with $3,000 worth of cigarettes and a register drawer full of money.
"I'm not just concerned about myself," Ali said. "I'm concerned about the rest of the people working in the community, and they're working very hard."
Witnesses saw the suspects drive off in a newer black or dark-colored four-door car, possibly a Ford, police said. The suspected robbers were last seen entering the HOV lane on Interstate 84 eastbound.
Police have released surveillance footage from the attack and are working to identify the suspects.
In the meantime, Ali is getting a gun to protect himself and has a message for the criminals:
"Don't come with the guns, because I'll kick your a--," he warned.
Anyone with information is urged to call East Hartford police Det. Dan Ortiz at 860-291-7669 or email email@example.com.