Robber With Gas Can Threatens To Set Store, Employees On Fire

CHICAGO (STMW) — A Far South Side grocery owner and his nephew tackled a man who doused them with gasoline while threatening to set the store on fire during an attempted robbery Thursday in the Morgan Park neighborhood.

Thomas K. Hughes, 53, of 11311 S. May St., is charged with three counts of attempted aggravated arson and one count of attempted armed robbery, police said.

On Friday, Hughes was ordered held on $750,000 bond and a preliminary hearing was set for April 15 in Indictment Court (Br. 98), Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Andy Conklin said.

Hughes was allegedly carrying a red plastic gas container and wearing a ski mask when he entered Morgan Park Foods at 1101 W. 111th St. about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, police said.

The store’s owner, 39-year-old Haytham Elzeibaq; his 21-year-old nephew Jay Elzeibaq, and a 46-year-old security man were working at the time.

“He just started throwing gas all over my nephew and I,’’ said Haytham Elzeibaq. “He said, ‘Give me the money, give me the cash’ and he took the register. He had a lighter and he was going to strike it.’’’

Hughes allegedly said: “Open the cash register or I’ll burn you and the store,’’ the police report said.

But the victims took action instead.

“We jumped on him,’’ Haytham Elzeibaq said.

They wrestled and exchanged punches with Hughes and were able to hold him down until police arrived. Onlookers — including a woman and several passengers aboard a CTA bus — saw the fight and called police, he said.

“If he had lit the lighter, the whole place would have gone up,’’ according to Haytham Elzeibaq, who said he and his nephew suffered only scratches.

Oddly enough, when they pulled off Hughes’ mask, they realized they knew him as a customer who comes into the store every day or so to buy juice and chips.

“We never had a problem with him. He’s really quiet,’’ said Haytham Elzeibaq, who has owned the store for five years and said nothing similar has ever happened.

He credits his streets smarts — including not appearing to be scared — with allowing him to thwart the robber.

“If you are scared, people will take advantage of you,’’ he said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Rick

    They should have beaten him within an inch of his life.

  • dwl

    An incredibly violent robbery attempt. That creep should be locked up for a very long time.

  • Bill T.

    What does this have to do with black African negros?

    • apw

      You’re a real stupid white European caucasoid. No sense in replying to your stupid-ass question.

      • Elmer

        What is your problem apw?

    • Oscar

      The robber in this story is a blackie.

  • Black Ceasar

    I an African American Man. This has nothing to do with race. Don’t hate on them for having a business in black community. If you don’t like it, open your own store. But you won’t, it’s easier just to complain.

    • apw

      Hey Man, when was the last time you’ve seen or heard of any arab investing money into revitalizing some of our neighborhoods. I’m a proud and professional African-American male who’s goal is to open a photography studio to serve my own constituents and give guidance to our young people by getting them involved in the arts instead of the streets. You’re right, it has nothing to do with race and I’ll take back what I said about them, but it has a lot to do with US as a people. And there’s nothing I want to do than to give back to the neighborhood where I grew up where something like a art gallery and family portrait studio is needed. Blacks are the 9th wealthiest ethnic group in the world, yet we’re the biggest consumers. So consider do business with a small business instead of wasting it a group who have nothing but take from and never give back. That’s all I’m saying.

      • Black Ceasar

        Well said, I think we all can learn from any small business owners, good,bad, black, white, or Arab, Just because they don’t invest in our community, that doesn’t mean their bad, or deserves to be robbed, and have gasoline poured on them and their store products.. They are providing a service based on supply and demand. We as the Black community, as a whole have to stop thinking as being a victimized community. The “black community” need to stop waiting for outside help to build up our own communities and build it up ourselves. Where are our so called black leaders? Do we ask the same of them? No. They get elected and nothing changes, you know why? Because the black community keeps waiting on someone, or something to come in and make everything alright. There is no excuse for any crime, no matter how one may try to justify it.

      • NWA

        Amen Brother!


      • Anonymous

        Hi, Nig.

  • kevin


    • rob

      Kevin, your post should be singular. Dont blame anybody but the jerk who did that.

  • Tracy Black

    You’re an animal Kevin…

    True he should be locked up for attempting to rob. What’s funny is Black people rob stores or each other just to make ends meet. White people rob corporations, rob them of pensions and 401K. Who’s the animal?

    • Black Ceasar

      People rob because they are criminals, not because they are trying to make ends meet. I don’t care if they’re black or white. They do it because they think they can get away with it.

      • rob

        I don’t know Tracy. Would you rather lose your 401K or get set on fire?

      • Tracy Black

        @Rob I’d rather none of the above of course. @Black Ceasar…criminals are criminals no matter what the outcome. For crack, my 401K, whatever. Stealing is stealing period.

    • Tyrone

      I don’t think you are quite accurate there Tracy. Negros don’t rob to make ends meet, that’s ridiculous. They rob for crack rocks, $200 shoes or just for the thrill of victimizing the innocent. White people steal to be wealthy. That’s the difference between crackers and black African negros. Now really, who’s the animals?

      • Tracy Black

        An animal is anyone who steals for their personal gain…whether it’s for wealth or $20 for crack….no difference stealing is stealing. Why would it be okay to take someones 401K?

        Why do you keep using the word NEGRO, that’s so out of date. We are African American. The same people that built this country.

    • Deen Life

      The robber was a crack head, and that store has been in our community since my mother was a child. It has been owned by Arabs for 20+ years. We depend on that store, and we appreciate them. There is no security in the store, that is just an employee. The problem is the drugs and the crime in the community.

  • Regular Or Premium???

    With the price of gas, maybe he should just steal gas. It is Liquid gold.

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