Merchants from Oakland’s Chinatown have begun to arm themselves with weaponry after a series of racially-biased attacks terrorized their area in recent weeks.

To stop burglary in the street, a liquor store owner pulled out his gun and fired. “He always helps people chase the bad guy, and that’s how he is. He won’t just stand and do nothing when he sees things; he will react,” Barry Szeto said.

Chinatown Crimes

That is how the owner of Chinatown’s Park Liquor store was described by Szeto. When the merchant saw a woman being attacked and robbed in front of his shop, Szeto claims the merchant took his gun out and interfered. “He was able to fire four shots into the air to scare the bad guy,” Szeto said.

However, the police arrested the merchant for discharging his gun while the thief ran away with the woman’s camera.

“While we understand the community is concerned, my message is we don’t want our business owners or others to begin to arm themselves,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said.

The new police chief of Oakland said the city is doing what it can to fix the Chinatown crime rate. He says police respond instantly to 911 calls. However, he noted adding more weapons to the mix is a recipe for even more issues.

“When weapons are fired into our community, there could be unintended victims. People hit by gunfire, and we want to avoid that as much as we can,” Armstrong said.

The police chief said that if lives are not on the line, private armed security guards currently patrolling the area have already been advised not to use their weapons. “This is worse than a war zone in Afghanistan,” Szeto said.

Szeto, one of the residents in Oakland’s Chinatown, said people in Chinatown were running out of options amid the surge in crime. He also assists police in patrolling around the area with a mace and a baton. Szeto said something had to change.

“Here in this neighborhood, you get attacked on a 24/7 basis; this is ridiculous,” and added, “We cannot live under such circumstances every day. We’re not talking once in a while … every day,” Szeto said, NBC Bay Area reported.

The District Attorney said the case was still under investigation but did not reveal whether the liquor store owner would be charged or not.