St. Claude store owner, 3 children victims of armed robbery attempt

Updated: Jul. 27, 2017 at 5:43 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It was just before 10:30 Wednesday night when a man armed with a gun stormed into Hank's Meat Market on St. Claude Avenue.

The owner and his three young children were inside. The gunman put a bag on the counter and demanded money. The owner's 9-year-old daughter took off running in fear. His 13-year-old son stood up and faced the gunman.

"I was confused. My dad was brave. He told us fear could be your worst enemy. If you show fear, then the person that you're showing fear to will have the advantage. That's what my dad did. He didn't show any fear," the 13-year-old said.

The boy said his dad told the gunman they didn't have any money, but the gunman demanded it again. That's when the owner told him, "If you want it, go get it yourself."

Behind the counter in a confined area was the owner's 10-year-old daughter. Surveillance video shows the little girl putting her hands up in fear for her life.

"I'm nervous. I had my hands up and all that stuff. I thought that was the end of my childhood, no more friends or anything. I was really scared," she said.

The gunman pulled on the door to gain access to the registers, but the door was locked. He took off running empty-handed.

"My phone rang and it was my son calling. He said, 'Mom, mom, we almost died.' I was like, 'What are you talking about?' He was like, 'A guy came into the store with a gun and tried to hold us up,'" Lisa Nelson said.

Nelson is the mother of the three children and co-owner of Hank's Meat Market. She said it's heartbreaking to see what her young children went through Wednesday night.

"Yeah, I mean, it could have gone really bad. I could be without my family right now. When I think about it like that, it could have gone so wrong," she said.

Nelson is thankful no one was hurt, but she worries about the future of their business. This is the second time they've been victimized in the past six months.

"All three registers were destroyed and products missing," she said.

Back in February, a man broke through a back wall to gain entry into the business. He used a hammer to beat the registers open, stole cash, and left behind a big mess.

"This is basically our home. We just go home to sleep, but we are here a lot, seven days a week with no days off. We're just trying to keep it going, and it's just one challenge after another. I'm going out trying to bring money in, but while you think everything is fine, someone comes in and tries to take what little you have left, again," Nelson said.

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