Store Owner Says Alleged ‘Mastermind’ Burglar Gets Charges Dropped While His Store Clerk Remains On House Arrest

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Heather Hunter Contributor
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The owner of a Virginia smoke shop is outraged that a juvenile who allegedly plotted to burglarize his store “is walking free.” He said Monday that his employee is on house arrest with an ankle GPS for defending himself and the store.

The shop’s owner, Jowan Zuber, joined Washington-based radio show “Mornings on the Mall” on WMAL to discuss the dismissal of the suspect’s charges in court.

His store clerk, Hamzeh Abushariah, has been on house arrest since June following his release from jail, according to Zuber, for allegedly shooting one of the three intruders.

Zuber called the decision made Thursday in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Arlington “a disgrace.”

Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County, told the Daily Caller that they are “very limited in what we can say about cases” and are more limited in what they can say about juvenile cases.

Zuber said that his employee was staying at the Arlington Smoke Shop on March 29 to avoid coronavirus spreading in his apartment building.

According to Zuber, the burglary suspects were juveniles wearing all dark clothes and masks when they broke through the front door around 4:50 a.m.

Two of the three suspects went toward the cash register while another suspect went toward the store office where Abushariah was sleeping, Zuber said.

Zuber claims that his employee awoke to loud noises and he encountered the three masked suspects in the dark store.

“Hamzeh was so afraid for his life,” Zuber told WMAL radio host Vince Coglianese.

He fired shots with the store’s gun and closed the door to call the police, Zuber said. The store owner bought the gun a couple of weeks prior to protect his wife and employee from potential burglary attempts on his store.

Arlington Police said one of the suspects was struck and suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

In an April court hearing, the prosecutors showed the judge a video of capturing Abushariah “shooting one of the burglars ‘point-blank in the back,'”according to WJLA.

Zuber told the Caller that in the video he saw “clearly showed that the [burglary suspect] lunged toward Hamzeh when he opened the door. Just imagine you waking up at 4:50 a.m. You open your door and a six foot man wearing all black and a mask lunges in front of you. What would you do?”

When Abushariah used the store’s gun, he had already had a protective order on him which prohibited him from possessing a gun. The store owner insists it was should have been considered self defense and the gun belonged to the store, not Abushariah.

Prosecutors argue possession does not just mean ownership, WJLA reported.

When the police arrived, the injured juvenile was put in an ambulance, the police questioned Zuber and the store clerk, and then arrested the clerk.

“The police told him that he should have run out of the backdoor instead of leaving where he was,” Zuber said. “At the end of the day, this is very sad because Hamzeh was sleeping and he wasn’t going around looking for someone to shoot.”

The smoke shop owner claims he discovered in court that the injured burglary suspect turned out to be “the mastermind.”

“The kid admitted to everything in court. He said he was the mastermind. He smoked a joint. He picked up all the tools to break in. He said he always carries a knife with him,” Zuber told the Caller.

The suspect had allegedly admitted in court that he had been to the store at least 30 times, had studied the outside store cameras before the burglary, and had tried breaking in through the store’s back door before breaking in through the front door, according to the store owner.

Zuber said he doesn’t understand how the juvenile could admit to organizing the burglary on his store and get away with it. “And at the end, they still let him go.”

The injured burglary suspect has been seen in court in a wheelchair because of the injuries related to the March shooting in his store, per Zubur.

Zuber said he recently saw that the suspect had posted a SnapChat video of himself getting up and standing with the text: “Told y’all I was gonna stand.”

The store owner  said he thought it was odd that the prosecutor seemed to be so sympathetic to “the criminal” while in court despite his admission of plotting the burglary.

“I can’t believe Joshua Katcher, the prosecutor, was defending the criminal and was acting like his lawyer,” he told WMAL. “This is a disgrace to the justice system because I have never seen a criminal be protected by a prosecutor.”

Katcher is the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington County, Virginia. The Commonwealth’s Attorney Office is led by newly-elected prosecutor Parisa Dehghani-Tafti.

Zuber, who regards himself as apolitical, believes his appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” following the burglary might have impacted the prosecutor’s treatment of his employee and the burglary suspects.

“Once I got on Tucker, the prosecutor and all of them think I’m a Republican,” he said.

He pointed to an ARLNow news article that added to people’s perceptions of him having political views. “I just want justice. I’m not against nobody. I just want Hamzeh to be able to get back to work to provide for his family,” Zuber said. (RELATED: George Soros Still Quietly Buying District Attorneys’ Seats)

Zuber hopes that as the prosecutors continue to consider his employee’s case that they take compassion on him as a father trying to take care of his family.

“He has a five-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son that he has to provide for. He still has to pay child support but they are not letting him go to work,” claimed Zuber.

“I hope this case gets attention so people can really look at what Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and Joshua Katcher, the prosecutors, are doing. I tried to reach out to them just to make sense. Parisa and Joshua both have kids and they should understand Hamzeh’s pain.” (RELATED: Dem Prosecutors Fear For Suburbs’ Safety As Radical District Attorneys, Fueled By Soros Cash, Take Control)

Abushariah has been charged with reckless handling of a firearm (class 6 felony of 1 to 5 years), possession of a firearm while under a protective order (class 6 felony), and probable cause for unlawful wounding (class 6 felony). The charges were certified to the grand jury which will sit on the last week of August.

The injured burglary suspect’s charges were dropped on Thursday while the second suspect was recently charged and the third suspect was named for the first time in court last week.