TAMPA (WFLA) – After a peaceful day of protest in Tampa on Saturday, the situation quickly turned to violence and looting along Fowler Avenue when the sun went down.
Eagle 8 was overhead as thieves broke into the Gold N Diamonds store across from University Square mall.
The owners of the local jewelry store were at home and watched the events unfold on Channel 8
“I couldn’t believe it. I would never in my life expected it to go down the way it did,” said the owner, “koki”.
Dozens of people worked to breach a security gate at the store and then quickly made their way inside to grab whatever they could as Eagle 8 stayed over the scene as looters fought between themselves for the valuables stolen from the store.
“It was not fair to us, as a family, as a community who will be obviously not working and now and now for the clean up that we’re going to have to do,” said the owner.
At least 40 other businesses were robbed that night as Tampa police officers, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies and Florida State Troopers worked to secure University Town Center Mall as thieves broke into other stores up and down Fowler Avenue.
“They knew what they were doing, they were hitting specifically certain stores, that they deal with, beauty supply stores, cell phone stores, shoe stores, jewelry stores things that are easy for them to pick up that are worth a lot of money,” said a store owner who requested to not be named.
The owners of both stores say they understand why protests have been held around the country, but they say the thefts from their stores are not part of protesting.
“In Tampa, we have nothing to do with what’s going on in Minnesota and even if people are upset about the government and the police, they shouldn’t take it out on local, small community business.”