NEW JERSEY - Prosecutors in New Jersey say they are investigating the death of the owner of a store on the Atlantic City boardwalk who collapsed after he was allegedly threatened by a knife-wielding 12-year-old during a confrontation with multiple juveniles at his shop.
Atlantic City police were called shortly after 7:30 p.m. Thursday on a report that "multiple juveniles were damaging the store and assaulting individuals." Prosecutors allege that a 12-year-old boy "while attempting to steal items ... brandished a knife and threatened the store owner."
Responding officers arrested the youth and a 14-year-old girl, but shortly after officers arrived, the store owner collapsed. Mahmood Ansari, 66, was later pronounced dead at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, prosecutors said. Autopsy results are pending.
Prosecutors said the boy is charged with robbery, weapons offenses, simple assault, terroristic threats, conspiracy and shoplifting. The girl faces charges of robbery, simple assault, shoplifting and conspiracy. Investigators say they are trying to identify other juveniles involved. Anyone with information is asked to call police or prosecutors.
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Ansari had owned City Souvenirs for more than 30 years, his sons Asif and Kashif Ansari told The Press of Atlantic City.
"He was the heart of Atlantic City," Asif said. "Everybody loved him. He did good things for his city, and he wanted to do so much more."
Scores gathered Friday in a protest organized by the Atlantic City Merchants Association to remember Ansari and demand action from the city, carrying signs such as "Boardwalk needs protection," "Better Laws Against Juvenile Violence," and "We need justice."
Association president Amer Kashmiri said boardwalk store owners have complained repeatedly about harassment and theft.
Mayor Marty Small Sr. told the crowd that such "senseless violence" isn't acceptable, and vowed that officials would "do a better job."
Deputy Chief James Sarkos, interim officer-in-charge of the city police, said police were aware of "concerns and complaints from the business community, regarding juveniles."
"As the weather turns warmer, the Atlantic City police department will work and coordinate with businesses along our famous boardwalk and retail areas," he said.