Clerk Swings Ax to Chase Away Would-Be Robber
By Andrew Strickler, Newsday
24 October 2007
Fair warning, criminals: Do not mess with Hafize Sahin.
Not letting her slight frame deter her, Sahin wielded an ax against a masked man who tried to rob her at gunpoint on Saturday, swinging with gusto at the would-be robber before he fled empty-handed.
“I said, ‘Get out, get out!’” recalled Sahin, who was back at work at the register yesterday. “I didn’t want to hit him. I just wanted him to get out of here.”
The diminutive clerk - somewhere shy of 5 feet tall and just 90 pounds - was behind the counter at her family’s business, Southaven Convenience on Montauk Highway in Brookhaven, about 8 p.m. when the man, his face covered with a bandanna, walked in, pointed a gun and demanded cash.
A store surveillance video, released yesterday by Suffolk police, shows Sahin, wearing a long dress and a headscarf, stalling the intruder for several seconds, pecking at the cash register and searching with one hand for a panic button.
Suddenly, she grabs a 2 1/2-foot ax from under the counter, cocks it over her narrow shoulder, and takes a half dozen chops at the man, even reaching over the counter at her 6-foot target. The frightened intruder steps back and aims his gun again. But apparently confused by the onslaught, he then runs out the door with Sahin in pursuit to the parking lot.
“It’s something I haven’t seen before,” said Det. Lt. Edward Reilly of the Suffolk police’s Fifth Precinct. Reilly said Sahin, 27, acted in self-defense but that the public should “think twice” before trying to fight off a robber.
“The recommendation of the police department is, if someone is robbing you, you give them what they want,” Reilly said.
Kevin Klein, 49, a family friend who also works at the store, said he was not surprised at Sahin’s gumption. “I’ve seen her roughhouse with a friend,” he said. “I knew she was tough.” The store has been robbed five times in the last two years, Klein said, and recently upgraded its surveillance system.
Sahin, who moved to the states from Turkey with her sisters in 1998, said the ax was there “to clear roots” and that she was emboldened because she believed the gun was a fake. “But even then I was scared,” she said. “I thought he might come behind and fight me.”
Police asked yesterday for the public’s help in locating the suspect, described as a man between 28 and 30 years old, 6 feet tall, and a medium build. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and white gloves.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.
Hat tips to: Austrolabe and Umar Lee, and to Age of Jahiliyah for the Newsday article.