ELKHART — This week’s Martin’s Super Market shootings brought back painful memories for Monga Bhatti and his customers.
Bhatti took over ownership of Saleh’s Market, 401 Middlebury St., following the shooting deaths of his father, 55-year-old Jagtar Bhatti, and his employee, Pawan Singh, 20, in a Sept. 5 robbery of the store.
Monga does not speak English, but the Martin’s tragedy has left him more frightened, said Nader Saleh, who is a close friend of the Bhatti family and works at Main Street Mini-Mart, which Monga Bhatti also now owns.
“He’s still shocked over his dad’s situation, so when he seen that, he called me and was like, ‘Well I don’t want to work anymore. I’m kind of scared to work.’ It’s not safe nowhere,” Saleh said. “It’s not only the low-income areas that you got to worry about. That (3900 E. Bristol St. Martin’s) is by Greenleaf; that’s all a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood. So you’re really not safe anywhere.”
Jasheene Taylor, who lives near Saleh’s Market and visits often, agreed.
“I had flashbacks, I thought about it,” she said. “I cried a little bit, prayed a little bit, but life goes on.”
“It brings back some bad memories,” said Pat Richardson, who lives a block from Saleh’s and was in the store Friday to buy some cigars. “It reminded me of that. I just think we need gun control. Stop the violence. This is our community. We need this community store to survive, and we need the big grocery stores too.”
To make Bhatti feel safer, Saleh said he wants to encase the counters of the stores with bulletproof glass and install more security cameras. For his part, Saleh said he remains confident he can handle most potentially violent situations in his store by diffusing anger.
“A lot of guys come in here and will be talking crazy, but I know how to deal with them verbally,” he said. “There’s a way to go about handling a situation. Instead of being aggressive, you try to calm them down with talk. It’s about respect.”