A 24th street merchant held up at gunpoint on Saturday said Wednesday morning that he was doing his own investigation to help police solve the crime that left him with 13 stitches, a broken nose and $19,000 missing in cash and merchandise.
“I’m trying to do this on my own. I don’t trust the police department,” said Edgardo Campos, the 55-year-old owner of Jj Jewelers at 3214 24th St.
“I don’t want this to happen again. Next time they’re carrying a real gun. Somebody could get killed. I want to alert the neighbors, you have to be careful.”
Mission Station Capt. Stephen Tacchini listened intently as Campos told the same story at a community meeting Tuesday night.
Tacchini advised him to give any evidence he found to police but Campos quickly interrupted saying he thought the inspectors on the case didn’t believe him and weren’t taking his theories seriously.
Campos believes the Saturday robbery is connected to two previous incidents that have taken place in the last two years. Police said the investigation is on going.
Campos told Mission Loc@l Wednesday that three African American men between the ages of 18 to 25 walked into his shop at 5:40 p.m. Saturday just as he and his two employees were closing up. They were wearing over-sized hoodies, baggy pants hung low around their legs and several layers of underwear, he said.
Immediately after entering the store, the men pulled ski masks over their faces. Initially, Campos said, he thought “they were joking because the one with the gun couldn’t find it in his pants. The guy is not a professional.”
Soon after, however, he had the gun at Campos’s head and the two other men scrambled for the contents in the safe. The store’s two male employees lay quietly on the floor.
“They knew what they wanted,” Campos said adding that the robbers got roughly $12,000 in cash and $7,000 in merchandise including a layaway box of jewelry, “mostly wedding rings and chains” worth another $7,000, valuable European and American coins, including a rare 1898 $20 coin, and his 380 revolver.
“They went straight for the three drawers with money in it. And they came when they knew the safe would be open. They didn’t touch anything else. Incredible.”
Soon after the drawers were emptied, Campos said he heard a shot.
“I lost a lot of blood. There was blood all over the floor, on the sidewalks, all over my shirt. But I never fell, never got dizzy. I ran after them but they were already gone. I came back and put a rag over my eye and called the police myself from my cell phone.”
“It took 15 minutes for the police to show up!” Campos said. “They’re supposed to help taxpayers. In my experience, people who have been suffering [in the Latin communities] are not happy with the police.”
Campos said he was “ a little shaken,” but suffered no permanent damage. He said he thought the burglars were using a BB gun. If it had been a real gun, he said, he would be dead.
Campos found the shell of a BB in his store the next day and presented it in a zip lock bag on Tuesday night to police at the community meeting.
A chatty man with a thick accent, Campos came to San Francisco from his native El Salvador in 1974. He has been a landlord and a small business owner for 25 years, helping to sweep the streets to keep his beloved neighborhood beautiful, he said.
Amanda Martinez contributed to this story.