Korean-Owned Store Attacked, Vandalized At Charlotte Transit Center
Updated 6 p.m. April 3
A man has been arrested and charged with attacking a Korean-owned convenience store in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday, after the owners say the attacker entered the store and began smashing the store's coolers with a metal signpost and yelling racial slurs at them.
The attack took place on Tuesday, March 30, at the Plaza Sundries convenience store at the Charlotte Transit Center in uptown. Surveillance video posted on YouTube shows a person entering the store and toppling a rack of merchandise, then violently swinging a metal sign post at the store's soda coolers as customers scramble to leave the shop.
The attacker, dressed in a camouflage coat and a black beanie, is unsuccessful in smashing coolers near the front of the store, but smashes the door of a cooler near the back after circling the small store.
In an interview with WFAE, store owner Mun Sung, 65, said he and his wife, Joyce Sung, 63, were working at the store when the attack took place around 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
When the attacker entered the store, he shouted, "Chinese M-Fs," Sung said, opting not to repeat the expletive. The man also broke an ice cream cooler in the back of the store and was later joined by another man, whom Sung recognized as a past customer, who cheered the attacker on.
After police arrived and arrested the attacker, and after Sung closed down the store to begin cleaning up, he said the attacker's friend returned and continued to harass Sung and his wife with others from the window.
At one point, when Sung's wife left to go to the bathroom, the man followed her, making sexual comments and lewd gestures, Sung said.
In a statement, the Charlotte Area Transit System confirmed that a 24-year-old man was arrested at the Plaza Sundries store Tuesday in connection with a violent attack.
The transit system identified the man as Xavier Rachee Woody-Silas. He was charged with damage to real property, robbery with a dangerous weapon, communicating threats, misdemeanor larceny, disorderly conduct, and resisting, delaying, and obstructing officers.
Police were also pursuing a potential charge of misdemeanor ethnic intimidation under North Carolina's hate crimes statute at least partially based on alleged statements made to the store clerk, CATS said. In addition, Woody-Silas has been banned from all CATS facilities and services.
The transit system also said the security system it contracts with, G4S, has increased its presence at the transit center.
Sung said the attack was not out of the ordinary for his line of work. He said his family members and other employees are regularly called names and cursed at on the job, and people regularly steal from the store or intentionally knock over the chip rack. He said it's common among Asian-owned convenience stores.
"Any other place — the Asian people who own the market or convenience store like this, they have a very similar situation," Sung said.
He said he was once beaten and hospitalized by a customer he caught stealing from a convenience store in Wilmington where he worked several years ago.
Sung said the most recent attack had especially rattled his wife, who hadn't experienced a major incident at the store before, and he said she "had some trauma" because of it.
Since news of the attack began spreading on social media and in local news outlets, many members of the community have begun finding ways to show support for the Sungs and their store.
One of Sungs' nieces started a GoFundMe campaign following the attack, writing that it's "one thing we can do to help." Donations to the fundraiser, which was meant to raise $5,000, were quickly climbing Saturday, topping $32,000 by 5 p.m.
Sung said he wasn't aware so much money had been raised, saying he "never expected it." He said another man had come into the store earlier Saturday and dropped off five boxes of pizza for the store and its employees.
He said he wasn't particularly worried about the future, or about the damage to the store. He had already replaced the smashed door to one of the coolers Saturday and was readjusting the store's cameras to get better angles in case of another attack. He said people shouldn't worry too much about his store.
"We'll make more money," he said, "We're working hard."