Riot lawsuit offers look inside looting of Baltimore businesses

A liquor store owner was beaten and robbed of his wallet and car keys, which were used to steal his car and drive it from the West Baltimore business to his home about 30 minutes away, as dozens of other businesses were looted during the April 2015 rioting, according to a lawsuit filed by about 60 impacted business owners in the city.

The liquor store owner’s account was among those of other property owners and store employees affected by rioting and looting included in a 700-page complaint filed this week in federal court. The unrest broke out April 27, the day of the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died from injuries sustained in police custody, and continued into the next morning.

The plaintiffs are bringing a claim against the city for property damage, naming the former mayor, former police chief, city council, city police, state and current mayor as defendants.

A lawyer listed for the city in court records, former police commissioner Anthony Batts and a spokesman for current Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. Former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declined to comment.

Here are some of the accounts from business and building owners that are included in the lawsuit:

Uptown Liquors, 2115 W. North Avenue — The owner and his daughter witnessed rioting nearby and called police, who suggested the owner lock up the business and stay inside. Rioters later broke through the security doors, assaulting the owner and daughter. Both were hospitalized. Rioters stole the owner’s keys and wallet, and drove his car to his home in Joppa, where they were scared off by a family dog. The business was closed through July 31, 2015.

Ebony Towne Store, 1801 W. North Ave. — Employees tried to close the store at 3:30 p.m. on April 27, but rioters prevented them from closing a steel security door. Rioters forced their way inside, assaulting two employees. One suffered a cut to the head and a facial fracture. Another was “beaten with a fire extinguisher.” After an initial wave of looting stopped, the employees were able to secure the steel door. But later, rioters tore the door down, leading to more looting and assaults of the employees before police arrived, the suit stated. The building was set on fire, and the business has been permanently closed.

Fireside North Liquors, 2201 W. North Ave. — “Approximately 50 rioters attempted to force their way into the business,” using crowbars and pipes to force open the front entry. An owner was robbed and assaulted, leading to extensive injuries — including facial fractures. Fires were set to the business, and the building was later condemned.

Novak Market, 2054 East Federal St. — The business closed around 1 p.m. on April 27, and just before 9 p.m., rioters broke in. A fire destroyed the entire building, owned by four plaintiffs. The building has been demolished and the business no longer exists.

East Curley Liquors, 2921 East Monument St. — The business closed around 8 p.m. on April 27, and around 10:30 p.m., rioters broke in, stealing and damaging property. The business has been permanently closed.

J Mart Wig, 2100 W. Pratt St. — The business closed around 6 p.m. on April 27. Overnight, a steel security gate on the building was pulled down. Inventory and cash was stolen. The business was permanently closed.

Freddie’s Liquor, 2000-2002 West Lanvale St. — The business closed at 7:45 p.m. Around 8:15 p.m., an alarm warned of a break-in. The following morning, the owners attempted to repair damages to the property and were assaulted. The business was closed through July 4, 2015.

Beauty Fair, 1825 North Smallwood St. — The business closed at 3:30 p.m. on April 27 “for safety reasons” and at 7 p.m., rioters broke out windows and doors. Inventory, equipment and cash was stolen. Other property was damaged. The business was closed through May 31, 2015.

Clever Mart, 200-214 Highland Ave. — The business closed around 5:30 p.m. Rioters broke in, taking inventory, cash and other property. The owner arrived at 11 p.m. and “personally guarded the business and fended off looters throughout that night and the morning of April 28.”

Wonderland Liquors, 2043-2045 Pennsylvania Ave. — The business closed around 3 p.m., and was looted multiple times throughout the evening, including the theft of inventory and cash, and damage to property. The business was closed through June 23.

We Fix It All, 3234 Greenmount Ave. — Rioters stole or damaged inventory, equipment and furnishings inside the cell phone repair business. Cash was stolen as well. The business was closed through April 29, 2015.

Jerry’s Bar, 604 Poplar Grove St. — Rioters broke into the business around 11:30 p.m., stealing inventory, cash, equipment and furnishings, and damaging property.

Gruner’s Market, 101 North Monastery Ave. — The business closed early on April 27 “for safety reasons.” Property, inventory and cash was stolen and property was damaged. The business was closed through May 1.

Mountain Grocery and Deli, 1700 Presstman St. — The business closed around 4 p.m. on April 27. Around 8 p.m., rioters broke in and stole inventory, cash and other property. The business was closed through May 6.

Hae-Ttenen Market, 1701 Baker St. — Property was stolen and fires were set, causing significant damage.

Grace Young Beer & Wine, 3600 West Garrison Ave. — The business closed around 5:30 p.m. on April 27. Overnight, rioters broke in, stealing and damaging property. The business was closed through May 3.

Doughty’s Food Market, 2789 West North Ave. — Owners drove to the business around midnight after an alarm went off, and found there had been a break-in. Property was stolen and damaged. The business was closed through April 28.

Fox Liquors, 1301 North Fulton Ave. — An alarm around 9 p.m. notified owners that the building had been broken into. The owner and his wife drove to the business to find looting underway. Reporting the looting to nearby police, they were told help was unavailable. The owners sat outside in their vehicle overnight, honking the horn to try to deter additional looting. The business remained closed through May 6.

Carey Liquors, 245 North Carey St. — The liquor store closed around 8 p.m. and around 10 p.m., rioters broke in, stealing or damaging inventory and other property. The business was closed through May 24.

Hillen Grocery, 1900 E. 31st St. — The business closed around noon on April 27, and between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. the next day, rioters broken in, stealing inventory and cash and causing damage to the building and property. The business was closed through May 11.

Yom’s Food Market, 1610 Abbotson St. — The business closed around 5:30 p.m., and about two hours later, rioters began to loot the business. The business was closed through the following day.

One Plus Grocery & Deli, 2708 Orleans St. — The business closed around 4 p.m., and around 5 p.m., rioters broke in through the roof, stealing inventory and cash and damaging the property. The business remained closed through April 29.

Carrollton Food Market, 640 North Carrollton Ave. — The business closed around 4:30 p.m. April 27, and around 3:30 a.m. on April 28, rioters broke in, stealing inventory and cash and damaging the property. The business remained closed through May 7.

Blocks Discount Liquors, 4623 Reisterstown Road — The business closed early, and around 9 p.m., rioters broken in through an area where the air conditioning enters the wall. Around midnight, more rioters entered in the same manner. Inventory and cash was stolen, property was damaged. The business remained closed through May 21.

Beauty Mart, 5118 Sinclair Lane — The business closed around 7 p.m. on April 27 and in the early hours of the following morning, rioters broke in, stealing inventory and cash and damaging the property. The business was closed through April 29.

J&J Liquor, 2601 North Hilton St. — The business closed around 4:30 p.m. April 27, and around midnight, rioters broke into the building and set it on fire, destroying it and damaging all of the property within. The building was set for demolition.

Kim’ s Liquor, 2863 West North Ave. — The business closed early on April 27, and around 7:30 p.m., rioters broken in, through a side wall, stealing inventory and cash and damaging property. The business remained closed through May 17.

Friend General Store, 2828 Edmondson Ave. — The business closed around noon, and just before midnight, rioters broke in, stealing inventory and cash, and damaging property. The business was closed through April 30.

Park’s Food Market, 538 North Arlington Ave. — The business closed around 5 p.m. and about an hour later, was broken into. A second wave of rioters broke in overnight. Inventory and cash was stolen, and the property was damaged. The business remained closed through May 4.

Royal Liquors, 1800 Division St. — The business closed early, and at some point overnight, was broken into. Rioters stole inventory and cash and damaged property. The business was closed through May 1.

Shon’s Food Market, 4709 Garrison Blvd. — The business closed early and sometime overnight, rioters broken in, stealing inventory and cash and damaging property. The business was closed through April 29.

Metro Plaza Wigs, Mondawmin Mall — The business closed three hours early and reported losses.

Metro Sundries, Mondawmin Mall — The property closed early and suffered damages.

Stadium Lounge, 3351 Greenmount Ave. — An employee of the business reported that her car, parked near the business, had been stolen by rioters, and was found damaged on May 17.

Boost Mobile, 5412 York Road — The business closed early, and later in the day, rioters broke in, stealing inventory and cash and damaging property. The business was closed through April 29.

Perry Liquor, 2550 Edmondson Ave. — The business closed early, and around 10:30 p.m., rioters broke in, stealing cash and inventory and damaging property. The business was closed through May 3.

A&D Food Mart, 2424 Presbury Street — The business closed around 4 p.m. and was looted multiple times throughout the evening, including the theft of inventory and cash and damage to property. The business was closed through May 3.

Unnamed properties, 2100 block West Pratt St. — Buildings “incurred significant fire, smoke and water damage.”

Also in the lawsuit, was another case, reportedly occurring days after the initial rioting:

Linden Food Market, 2435 Linden Ave. — Rioters broke in around midnight on May 5, stealing inventory and cash

Twitter: @seanjwelsh

Email: sjwelsh@baltsun.com

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