Looter returns stolen items to La Mesa business owner

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LA MESA, Calif. — Dan Buxton’s business, Play It Again Sports in the La Mesa Springs Shopping Center, was destroyed Saturday night during the riots, set on fire and looted.

But the response from his community — and one young man’s attempt at redemption — have heartened him during a dark hour.

“It’s just a roller coaster of emotions that we went straight from the bottom, straight to the top,” Buxton told FOX 5.

He watched his life’s savings taken away in a matter of minutes Saturday when a day of peaceful protest gave way to destructive chaos, and some opportunists took advantage of the moment to loot, vandalize and burn local businesses. Buxton watched people shatter the glass of his storefront with his own baseball bats and run off with merchandise.

Looters crowd into a sporting goods store during the La Mesa riots. The chaos came after a day of peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd by many other demonstrators. (Photo: OnScene.TV)

When the riot subsided and morning came, Buxton awoke to hundreds of strangers helping him clean up the mess and get back on his feet. And then the unthinkable happened: A young man approached Buxton and said he needed to make things right.

“He said, ‘Can I talk to you outside?’ And outside in the car he said, ‘I feel horrible, I was not part of the rioting but I did go into your store and I did take things.’ He gave me back a couple softball bats and a bag full of stuff from Sally’s Beauty and just said he felt bad about it — it’s not who he is.

“I told him that I forgive him, and that I made bad choices when I was young, and you made a bad choice, but now you’re making a good choice,” Buxton said.

Fours days after the riot, dozens of stores remained closed Wednesday and the community is still grappling with how to heal and move on after the clean-up and repairs.

Joseph Mountain and his daughters are responsible for lots of the artwork you see on recently boarded buildings around town. On Wednesday, they were working on a mural to hang on the fence around one of the buildings that burned.

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