Immigrant who ran Atlantic City souvenir shop dies after store ransacked by juveniles

Immigrant who ran Atlantic City souvenir shop dies after store ransacked by juveniles


A Pakistani immigrant who was a well-known businessman in Atlantic City for more than 40 years, died last Thursday after a group of teens – including at least two armed with a knife – ransacked one of his stores. 

Mehmood Ansari collapsed and died shortly after his store was robbed around 7:30 p.m. on April 1. Though autopsy reports are pending, Ansari’s son told Fox News his father likely died of heart failure, brought on by the stress of the robbery.

Mehmood Ansari immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistani more than 40 years ago. 
(Asif Ansari)

The robbery unfolded when a group of about six to eight juveniles came into the store, stole some items, and left, Ansari’s son, Asif, told Fox News. The group returned a short while later, and at least two – a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old – were armed with a knife, Asif said.

Asif estimated that the robbery lasted anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes as his family waited for police to arrive – something he said has been happening more frequently.   

“They’re not there, they are not working for us. You know, we pay top money, taxes, but (police) aren’t protecting us at all,” Asif said.

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Responding officers arrested the two juveniles. Ansari was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, where he was pronounced dead.

The 12-year-old has been charged with two counts of robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, simple assault, shoplifting, terroristic threats, and conspiracy, the Press of Atlantic City reported.

The 14-year-old has been charged with robbery, simple assault, shoplifting, and conspiracy but was released to a parent’s custody pending court, according to the outlet.

City Souvenirs, one of several businesses owned by Mehmood Ansari's family in Atlantic City. 

City Souvenirs, one of several businesses owned by Mehmood Ansari’s family in Atlantic City. 
(Google Maps)

Asif said robberies and thefts – compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matters protests – have been increasing in recent years and scaring off tourists.

“They’ve been getting out of hand, and we don’t have a better system of security for anybody,” Asif told Fox News. “We’ve been trying to ask for help from the city, but they’ve never helped us for the past two years. We’ve been trying.”

Ansari said the family is planning to meet with the prosecutors on Friday to relay their concerns about the lack of protection.

Fox News reached out to Deputy Chief James Sarkos, interim officer-in-charge of city police, but did not hear back before publication. In a Friday statement obtained by NJ.com, Sarkos said the department is “aware of the concerns and complaints” regarding juveniles, and plans to work with bussinesses. 

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“He’d been there 40 years. Every day he worked hard,” Asif said of his father, who owned multiple businesses in Atlantic City. “We were working as a family there. We try and make things better.”  

Ansari said he plans to attend rallies to protest the lack of protection if his family is unable to get the help they need.

“They should do something, because these juveniles, you cannot touch them. And it’s really sad because they can touch you. It’s ridiculous,” Asif said. “It comes down to protection. If there’s protection, we can safely do business without thinking of that.”

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His father’s death came just over a week after two Black teen girls – one 13, the other 15 – were charged with the fatal carjacking of a 66-year-old Uber driver who was also a Pakistani immigrant. Multiple reports this week said that prosecutors were expected to reach a plea agreement that would ensure the teens would not be tried as adults and not serve prison time past the age of 21.

“It’s going to repeat,” Asif said of such incidents. “Last year was worse, but it’s going to be worse this year.” 

The family is planning to hold a funeral for Ansari tomorrow at 1 p.m.



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