Shopkeeper convicted
Businessman says he has to protect himself

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 11/97) - A city shopkeeper convicted this week of assaulting a customer says he was driven over the edge by the many drunks who steal from him.

Jimmy Chi Kong, the 33-year-old owner of Corner Mart on 50th Street, was sentenced to one year's probation and 75 hours of community service for bashing a 22-year-old over the head three times with a stick Feb. 1.

Kong, who until now had no criminal record, said that the verdict doesn't tell the whole story.

"I open the door to customers," he said. "It's not an open door to a boxing ring to hit my customers. I don't intend to hurt my customers."

He told court on Monday that the man he hit reminded him of someone who attacked him two years ago. The memory, and the unpredictable behavior of a customer who wouldn't leave when asked, prompted him to take a stick from behind the store's counter.

"I felt he would potentially hurt my customers, my staff and damage my property," Kong said.

Troy Jewell, who was hospitalized for blows to his head, told the court that he had been drinking and was trying to pay for some food when he was attacked.

"I remember hearing a thud and then a sharp pain," he said.

Jewell received stitches to close the gash and said he still has migraine headaches because of the beating. He insisted he did nothing to provoke a clubbing.

Territorial court Judge Brian Bruser said he took the location of the business and Kong's "flooding of his memory" into consideration.

But he denied Kong's request for a discharge, saying he had to set an example for those who want to take the law into their own hands. "This should send a strong message to business operators," he said.

Bruser also encouraged Kong to seek counselling to ensure the

memory of the previous attack doesn't create future problems.

Kong, however, warned that the problems he has with some of his clientele will likely worsen if police don't take a stronger hand with customers who steal from him.

"I call the police when people steal from my store, and they let them go without charging them," he said. "They can go haywire in the store without getting in trouble for it. What am I supposed to do?"