HipHopWired Featured Video
A bodega in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, New York City

Source: Busà Photography / Getty

As America continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, shutdowns, food lines, and a racist President trying his best to incite a new civil war to stay in the White House, New York City is experiencing a crime wave not seen in decades and bodega owners are once again working in fear.

According to The New York Times, the work stoppage caused by the this years Coronavirus has pushed people to their limits and turned neighborhood bodegas into hot boxes for robberies and shootings like it was the 80’s. While masks have become required to enter most establishments these days to keep workers and customers safe from spreading the deadly virus, many are using the stipulation to commit crimes while hiding their faces.

During the first eight months of the pandemic, there was a 63 percent increase in shooting incidents inside or in front of bodegas and corner stores, a 222 percent rise in burglaries, and a 10 percent spike in robberies, according to police department data obtained by The New York Times. Six people have been killed in or just outside the stores, according to the data.

The surge comes as a second wave of the virus hits the city and a steep rise in gun violence that plagued New Yorkers over the summer shows no signs of slowing down. Shootings have doubled this year over last, and murders are up nearly 40 percent.

Bodega owners like Hardik Parekh learned first hand just how bad things got when he had an fatal run-in with a struggling neighborhood customer this past October which cost the life of his co-worker, Mohmediyan Tarwala.

One of the repeat shoplifters was a man who had been living in a van near the store, Mr. Parekh said. The man shoplifted a pint of ice cream on Oct. 26, then returned later that night.

Mr. Tarwala, who was known as Iyan, immediately led the man, identified by the police as Steven Cohen, 63, out of the store, and held the door shut to prevent him from re-entering, Mr. Parekh recalled.

“We didn’t know he had a gun,” he said.

The move only infuriated Mr. Cohen, Mr. Parekh remembered. He shoved his way in, pulled a pistol and shot Mr. Tarwala in the stomach, the police said.

Off-duty cop Jason Maharaj happened to be in the store when the incident unfolded and was able to pounce on Cohen and disarm him but unfortunately Mohmediyan Tarwala wasn’t able to survive the gunshot wound. Steven Cohen was arrested and later charged with murder.

With the pandemic still raging and shutdowns once again looming due to the rising numbers we don’t expect things to get better anytime soon, but we hope for the safety of everyone that these kind of incidents are left behind in 2020 with all the other f*ckery we’ve been forced to live with.

We can’t wait for 2021 to kick off with a new President, a new hope, and a new start.