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Owner of business where SLC chase ended speaks on recovering after crash, shootout

Posted at 10:01 PM, Apr 09, 2019

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — A tailor who was trapped inside his business during a South Salt Lake crash and shooting has no idea when his business can reopen after it was heavily damaged during Monday's ordeal.

Thaer Mahdi is also questioning the number of bullets officers used to take down Harold V. Robinson, when it would have been unclear at the time if any customers were inside the shop. The shooting left the front of Mahdi's tailoring business spattered with bullet holes.

Salt Lake City Police and the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office said Robinson tried robbing two convenience stores with a gun and fired shots at the second business, before going on a shooting spree in downtown Salt Lake City and down State Street into South Salt Lake.

Witnesses said Robinson continuously fired his rifle toward the public as he blasted down the street in a truck, before he eventually crashed through the front of Princess Alterations on State Street.

Immediately after the crash, more than a dozen police officers opened fire, killing the driver.

On Tuesday, Princess Alterations was empty out front and boarded up. Broken glass sat scattered on the ground and bullet holes littered the front.

For anyone who hadn't heard what happened, seeing their neighborhood tailor shop dramatically altered was quite a shock.

Miriam Anderson walked up to the building, thinking she could pick up a blouse she dropped off to be tailored.

"I was just stunned and I thought, 'Hmm got to find out what's going on,'" she said, looking at the building. "Obviously there's a big problem."

She called Princess Alterations, though her main concern turned away from her blouse and toward Thaer Mahdi.

"I hope the man's okay that runs it/owns it," she said.

Mahdi, through translation from his son Bassam Hassan, said later on Tuesday that he's lucky to be alive.

"All he can remember is the big bang of the truck hitting the store, and then all the bullets," Hassan said.

Hassan relayed how traumatic the shooting was for his father. Mahdi was in the back of the shop at the time, and said he had no idea what was going on at the time.

Mahdi worried he would get shot, or be mistaken for the suspect.

"He was the only one inside, and they wouldn't have known who he was," Hassan said. After the flurry of shots stopped, Mahdi said an officer helped him out of the window.

Monday night, Hassan said his father couldn't sleep. He kept thinking about the crash, and the sheer number of shots he heard.

Hassan relayed that his father thought he was hearing a shootout between police and several people, rather than police and a lone suspect.

The suspect was on the ground, they indicated, and bullets reached to up above the doorway.

"They were shooting almost everywhere," Hassan said, translating his father's words. "Like, it was all over the place."

Mahdi wondered what would have happened had himself or a customer been at the front of the store during all of this.

"Who would have been responsible for their lives?" Hassan asked. "He just wants an answer for that."

They are glad Mahdi is alive and said they agree that the suspect needed to be stopped.

With their business too unsafe to set foot inside, they're now left waiting until insurance kicks in to clean up.

"The whole place is just a mess," Hassan said. "I don't know how long it's going to be, or when it's going to be back up."

The building's owner, Chao Zheng, said Tuesday morning during a visit to the building that the insurance company told him repairs will take about two weeks.

Customers like Anderson will have to wait for their orders.

Though, that's not really on Anderson's mind anymore.

"It makes me sad," she said, tears welling in her eyes as she looked at the damage. "That things like this, crazy stuff goes on."