Fight erupts in store

A patron enters the Valley Of Jordan, a convenience store at 1009 E. 53rd St. Marc Monaghan
A patron enters the Valley Of Jordan, a convenience store at 1009 E. 53rd St.

Marc Monaghan

Staff Writer

Joush Om, the owner of Valley of Jordan Food, 1009 E. 53rd St., was arrested last Friday, Oct. 23, following an argument with a 12-year-old middle school student.

Ebony Byrd Wesley, the boy’s mother, said that after her son used only pennies to pay for a ten cent piece of candy, Om became frustrated and threw the change back into the boy’s face.

Wesley, who was not present to witness the events first hand, said that the incident took place at approximately 4 p.m., after her son had been let out of school from Kozminski Community Academy, 936 E. 54th St. Wesley said that she is not releasing the name of her son for his own protection.
After the change was thrown at her son, Wesley said, Om came out from around the counter, kicked the boy, pushed him out of the store and then spat on his face.

The boy immediately called the police after he had been kicked out of the store. Wesley and police officers arrived on the scene a few minutes later.
A store security camera allowed police to watch footage of the encounter.
Wesley said that although the video supported her son’s account of the incident, police officers were hesitant to arrest the store’s owner.
“Watching an assault on a minor, I expected them to arrest the man right away,” said Wesley. “It was only after I demanded it that they arrested him.”

Police charged Om with one misdemeanor count of battery. Om has since been released from custody and is set to appear in court on Dec. 3.

Om (who appears in police records as Wael Ghoushes) rebuffed Wesley’s account of the incident and said that he did not act violently toward the middle school student. Additionally, Om said that the boy has previously caused problems within the store.

“Every time this boy comes, he causes trouble,” Om said.

Om said that when the boy approached the store’s counter, on Oct. 23, he pushed forward ten pennies, but wouldn’t show Om the object he had chosen to purchase.

“I said, ‘I want to see what you got, how can I charge you?’” Om recounted.
Om conceded that he threw the ten pennies onto the ground, but said that the only physical confrontation came when he ushered the boy outside by pushing on his backpack.

Om said that Wesley is trying to paint him as a racist, but that that claim is untrue.

“My wife is black,” Om said. “We’ve been married for 19 years. How can I be a racist?”

While Wesley felt that the security footage proved her son’s account of the incident, Om said that the tape supported his own description of events.

“The video proves everything I’ve said,” Om asserted.

“This has happened to other students,” Wesley charged. “But no one else has taken action against it.”

Wesley joined with other community members outside the Valley of Jordan Food at noon on Monday, Nov. 2, to protest the owners’ actions.