WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, N.Y. - Small hidden panic buttons are being installed inside bodegas across NYC. The piece of technology is aimed at making businesses a little safer.
Among the locations that has a panic button is a bodega located on West 162nd Street in Washington Heights.
Sammy, a nickname given to the manager, knows all too well that running a bodega can be a dangerous job. He was at the bodega 2 weeks ago when a 66-year-old man was shot in the head and killed outside the store.
The victim was identified as Reda Girgis, the father of one of the bodega owners. Girgis was in town from Egypt and was in town to meet his new grandchild.
Police arrested and charged three men in connection to the killing.
"He came just for visiting and celebrate his son and newborn baby," says Sammy, the bodega manager.
In light of this tragedy and several other crimes at bodegas, the National Retail Solutions is installing free panic button systems. The free technology is part of a 1 million dollar grant secured through the Bronx Community Foundation, the Bodega and Small Business Group, and Councilwoman Amanda Septimo.
The technology typically costs anywhere between $500 to $1,000, plus $120 a year to maintain. When the button is pressed, it sends a silent alert to the local police precinct to respond.
"So far we’ve seen within 5–10 minutes. It's not the quickest. But in a city like this, it is quicker than having to be on hold for 5-10 minutes or on a phone call," says Ricky Shah, from National Retail Solutions.
Sammy tells FOX5 he welcomes the new technology but isn’t sure if it would have made a difference the day of the deadly shooting outside the bodega.
"How many guns are out in the same time…the guy is hitting/shooting…and then goes running," says Sammy.
"It’s not going to bring back his family member …but going forward he hopes to avoid such tragedies," says Shah.