DETROIT — The owner of a BP gas station that attracted media coverage this week after one of its clerks shot and killed a customer over a dispute about the cost of condoms is reaching out to the victim’s family.
|Michael Haynes II|
Michael Haynes II, 24, of Detroit was shot by the station's clerk, 23-year-old Ibrahim Kassim Saleh on Mar. 10 after Haynes complained about the price of condoms. The two exchanged words regarding the subject. Haynes asked for a refund on the condoms he purchased, and later knocked down merchandise and shelves. Then Ibrahim emerged from behind the station's bulletproof glass and shot him in the back.
The owner knows an apology to the family isn't enough. "I know sorry is not enough." He’s considering different ways to reach out to the victim’s family. One includes possibly raising money to help pay for funeral expenses.
On Tuesday Saleh was charged with first-degree murder, and if convicted could face life in prison. The victim's family this week announced plans to file a lawsuit against the clerk and station. A hospital the family alleges delayed the process of treating Haynes may also appear on the suit.
Relatives of Haynes want the BP station permanently closed, but the owner says that’s not going to happen. For years he’s maintained good relations with the community.
"I love them too much," the owner said speaking about the community that neighbors the BP station. Many of his customers reached out to comfort him after the shooting.
The station was closed down for a few days, as peaceful protests were held outside of it. The owner is also working with community leaders in an attempt to ease any tensions or misunderstandings that may exist as a result of the incident.
Since the shooting a conversation about the relationship between gas station owners and the customers they serve within southeast Michigan has emerged.
Some have made comments referencing Arab American business owners, and how they treat their customers.
Imam Abdullah El-Amin of the Detroit Muslim Center, and director of community relations for Metro Detroit Station Services said the shooting isn’t a matter of race, but rather a result of an atmosphere that exists where there’s a lack of value for human rights.
"It's about what caused it, not who caused it," he said. Abdullah says putting the blame on one another will only increase tensions, and not resolve anything. "Both are victims in this."
Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality says in the post 9/11 era Arab Americans and African Americans have been able to identify more with each other on issues, and find themselves faced with the same challenges.
Scott says people in the community are not angry with the station, or its owner, but upset about the shooting and the station has become a symbol of that.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” he said.