Prosecutor: Atlantic City store owner dies after robbery; merchants call for more security

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Prosecutor: Atlantic City store owner dies after robbery
Prosecutors say they are investigating the death of the owner of a store on the Atlantic City boardwalk who collapsed after he was allegedly threatened by a knife-wielding 12-year-old.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A long-time Atlantic City, New Jersey boardwalk shop owner died shortly after an armed robbery at his store last week.

Shop owners along the boardwalk are frustrated, and they are calling on officials to do more to keep the boardwalk safe.

City Souvenirs on Atlantic City's boardwalk was still shuttered on Monday. Flowers were left outside of the business by other merchants.

"It's a family business we had here for more than 30 years. We had the third generation on the boardwalk doing this business in summer, in winter, everything," said Habib Ruhman, the victim's nephew.

On Thursday, Mahmood Ansari, 66, collapsed and died just after his store was robbed at knifepoint. Police say a 12-year-old boy threatened Ansari with a knife as others ransacked the store.

Police say Ansari collapsed just after officers arrived and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The boy and a 14-year-old girl were arrested and charged with robbery, simple assault and related crimes.

On Friday, merchants gathered on the boardwalk to demand more help with security.

"We shouldn't be waiting for people to die. We need to fix this before more people die," said boardwalk merchant Rizwan Malik.

"This boardwalk is the heart of Atlantic City. If it's not safe, tourists are not safe," said Amer Kashmiri, president of the Atlantic City Merchants Association.

Atlantic City police say they hope to do more juvenile outreach in the coming months and say they'll be putting more officers in the boardwalk area.

"We do have a tourism district unit and we're evidence-based as far as our deployment. So now that the summer season is approaching and the boardwalk is going to be picking up, we will definitely have more officers in those areas," said Deputy Chief James Sarkos, Interim Officer in Charge of the Atlantic City Police Department.

The merchants also called on the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to contribute more to improve safety.

On Monday, the CRDA said in a statement to Action News, "The CRDA has been providing funding for 45 Class II and 15 community-based police officers in the City's Tourism District. Since 2016, CRDA has committed nearly $10 million toward funding public safety initiatives in the city."

An official cause of death for Ansari has yet not been determined.

The investigation continues, and the Atlantic County Prosecutors Office says police are still looking for other juveniles that may have been involved.