From the New York Times of November 18, 2008
Unarmed, Shop Owner Turned Tables on Gunmen
Some would-be robbers picked the wrong shop owner to rob in Brooklyn on Monday night.
Even though he was unarmed, the shop owner, identified by neighbors as Youssouf Drame, 35, wrested a gun away from one of the men and fatally shot two of them. The police say that two other suspects — it’s unclear whether they entered the store — are at large.
Mr. Drame, the owner of the variety store at 1051 Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, was also shot multiple times during the struggle and remained in critical condition at Kings County Hospital Center on Tuesday, the police said.
His wife, Soriah Williams, 35, said on Tuesday evening that he had had surgery in the morning but was still in intensive care and not talking.
She said that he had been shot several times and had also been hit in the head.
“Nothing surprised me about what he did,” she said outside of 300 Sullivan Place, about three blocks from the store, where they live with their five children. “The gun would not scare him.”
Drummond Dignott, 19, a clerk, said he was working in the back of the store when the armed intruders entered about 8:20 p.m. He said a customer was also in the store, buying a T-shirt.
“They came in and said, ‘Everybody get down!’ ” Mr. Dignott said. One of the men hit Mr. Drame hard, “and then shots started going off.”
The police identified one of the two men killed as Leon Harris, 26, of 1212 Lincoln Place in Brooklyn. Mr. Harris was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital Center.
The other man who was shot, whose identity had not yet been released on Tuesday, was dead at the scene, the police said. Both had been shot in the torso, the police said.
The store owner is not expected to face any charges, the police said.
Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department, said, “Normally we advise people to try to get out of harm’s way, but that is not always possible.” He added that it is unusual for a victim to disarm an attacker.
Mr. Drame is well-known along Nostrand Avenue, a busy commercial strip lined with salons, Caribbean restaurants and 99-cent stores. His store, near Lefferts Avenue, has no sign out front, but it has items for sale displayed in the window and is known as Aliyah’s, according to a neighbor.
Customers who are short of money are often extended credit by Mr. Drame, neighbors said.
He also lets customers duck inside to charge their cellphones, said Troy Wilson, 40, who grew up nearby.
On Tuesday morning, a small, brown-handled pistol lay on the sidewalk against the grate of a beauty salon next door, guarded by the police as they waited for crime scene investigators. One of the store’s windows, which displayed dozens of video game boxes, was broken and shards of glass were scattered in front with splotches of what looked like dried blood.
Neighbors said Mr. Drame opened the store about 10 years ago. Christopher Johnson, 38, who lives on the fifth floor of Mr. Drame’s building, said he has known Mr. Drame for about 12 years.
“A lot of guys try to test him,” Mr. Johnson said. “Why do these guys try to mess with him?”