After a long day of selling snacks and sandwiches the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Mike Torres was about to close his deli and grocery store in North Charleston's newly streetscaped Olde Village.
Just before 9 p.m., two masked men entered the store near Park Circle. One pointed a gun at Torres, ordering him to get down on the floor behind the counter. Torres, 58, leaned forward as he was getting down to reach for a golf club to fend off the robbers.
"That's when he shot me in the arm," he said.
The assailants dashed out the door empty-handed and ran down the street. They have not been caught.
The shopkeeper was shot through his left forearm. He was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and later released with a metal plate in his arm.
Torres was down for a while, but the community is rallying to lift him back up with a fundraiser Jan. 26 to help pay his medical expenses.
His store, Quisqueya Deli and Groceries on East Montague Avenue, was closed for a week and his medical bills mounted to nearly $20,000.
It was the second armed robbery at Torres' store last year. In April, a masked man walked in behind the counter, forced him to open the cash registers and pistol-whipped him. The robber took about $50, Torres said. That robber was not caught either.
"We are a close community, and we look out for each other," said event organizer Mahwish McIntosh.
"When we learned that one of our merchants was harmed this way, we felt it was necessary to help him out in whatever ways we can," McIntosh said.
Park Circle Coffee 'n More, The Mill, and EVO Pizzeria will donate proceeds from designated draft beer while residents will serve to-go barbecue meals, offer donated prizes from $1 raffle tickets and organize live music in local venues starting at 1 p.m.
Advance tickets of $7 each are on sale at each of the three shops before Wednesday. Meals will cost $10 on the day of the event. The Mill will host DJ Trail Mix later in the evening.
All proceeds will benefit Torres and Crime Stoppers.
"The robbers may think they got away, but what they don't understand is that acts of violence and neighborhood crime bring our community even closer together," McIntosh said. "We are speaking out through our actions with this fundraiser because it simply is not right that one of our merchants must endure expensive medical bills all because someone wanted to make a quick buck."
Torres, a native of the Dominican Republic, is grateful for the assistance.
"I appreciate it a whole lot," he said. "You don't always find that kind of people."