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Video shows looting of family-run Lyell Avenue jewelry store: 'They took everything'

Berkeley Brean
Created: May 31, 2020 06:24 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Two thousand people hurt and angry about what happened in our city last night turned out Sunday to clean up.

The looting started Saturday afternoon at the flagship store of Villa, a minority-owned store at the corner of E. Main Street and East Avenue in Rochester open every day downtown for 10 years. 

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"For this to happen, for people to just come in and destroy our city like this, and this is something, it's like where do we go after this?" Ebony Meadows asked. 

Meadows, born and raised in Rochester, says she shops Villa. I followed her as she went up to one of the employees standing guard at the store Sunday. 

"When you come back I will be here. One of your first customers lined up for you," she told Brandon Goff. 

"I understand the anger I understand the vitriol," Goff told me. "But at the same time, it's a business where I worked in for the last eight years and it's tough."

Someone dropped off a bouquet of flowers to store Sunday morning. 

"It was for one of her friends but she felt more compelled to leave it here at the door," Goff said. "She said it was more in her heart to leave it at the door."

Sunday News10NBC obtained a security camera video that shows looting at a jewelry store on Lyell Avenue. 

The video shows a crowd gathering outside the front door. At one point, a female wearing a face mask grabs a two by four and smash the glass door.

The video shows the crowd swells and pushes towards the entrance. Video from a camera on the inside, shows a looter use the same piece of wood to breach the second door. And when the shattered glass is finally kicked in the video shows a wave of looters rushing in. 

"Everything is gone," said owner Raeann Mastrodonato. "They took everything."

Mastrodonato has owned this store with her husband for 10 years. She took me through the devastated inside. 

She says despite wearing face masks, her employee in the store at the time of the attack recognized "a lot" of the people looting the store. 

Mastrodonato says she has been scared of what the coronavirus shutdown was going to do this business and their employees. She thinks they lost $100,000 in one night. 

"We decided that we're going to rebuild and we're not going to let anyone take us down," she said. "We're going to fight through this."

The Mastrodonato's cleaned up the broken glass outside their store. The whole city was getting cleaned up by an army of volunteers. 

You could recognize them with their orange garbage bags. 

The command center was Frontier Field. 

Thousands of people lined up to work. They got gloves, rakes, brooms and directions on where to go. 

This is where I met Genelle Johnson and her friends. Johnson is a librarian in the Rochester City School District. I followed her to Goodman Plaza, where a store owned by immigrants who fled the war in Yemen, was attacked last night. 

"I just love Rochester," Johnson said. "I don't want to see this happening to us anymore."

By mid-afternoon, the volunteers salvaged bags of merchandise and cleaned up the mess. 

"I just want you to applaud yourselves because our community is better than what we saw last night," said LaShunda Leslie-Smith, Executive Director of Connected Communities Inc. "We are better than what we saw last night."


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