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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Haight Street Merchants Say Sam Kazzouh, Accused Gunman, a 'Nice Guy'

Posted By on Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

click to enlarge Innocent bystander
  • Innocent bystander

Dave Groeschel was working inside Mom's Body Shop at about 1:15 p.m. yesterday when he heard the gunshots outside. When he came out, he saw the victim, which the Chronicle reports is 52-year-old Michael Stafford, on the sidewalk -- he had been shot in the back. Beside the bleeding man was Gizmo, Stafford's small Chihuahua, wearing a pink sweater.

Groeschel was shocked by the shooting, but even more blown away when he found out who the accused shooter was: The shy and sweet guy who had been working next door to him at Fred's New Lite Supermarket for nearly two decades.

Groeschel had known both the victim -- who he said was possibly homeless-- and the accused shooter, Sam Kazzouh, 42, of Fairfield.

Stafford was always hanging around the corner store with his dog, and sometimes Kazzouh and his brothers, who owned the shop on Haight Street and Masonic Avenue, would give Stafford and his friends free food and stuff they needed when they didn't have money, according to Groeschel, who has managed Mom's Body Shop, a tattoo and piercing shop, since 1993.

"The market sort of helped take care of them," Groeschel  said.

But the relationship soured at about 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, when police say Kazzouh nudged the victim's dog, sparking an argument between the two. The Examiner reports that the victim then started yelling at Kazzouh, telling him that he was going to "kick his ass."

Kazzouh allegedly shot Stafford in the torso. The shopkeeper has been arrested and

charged with three felonies, including assault with a deadly

weapon, carrying a loaded firearm not registered to him, and shooting

into a dwelling. Stafford remains in critical condition.

Groeschel said he has known Kazzouh the entire time he has worked on Haight Street -- and he has always been quiet and kind to everyone. He said he would see Kazzouh almost every day when he went into the supermarket to buy water or snacks.

"He didn't bother anybody," Groeschel said. "He basically minded his own business. When I saw police bring him out of the market, I thought 'Wow they've arrested Sam, that's wild.'"

Gevir Aviv, an employee at Shoe Biz, which is two doors down from the market, told SF Weekly that he only interacted with Kazzouh when

he would go in to buy M&Ms.

"He's a timid dude," Aviv said.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert has been Online News Editor for SF Weekly since 2010. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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