An argument over a chubby Chihuahua in a pink polka-dotted sweater resulted in a Haight Street merchant shooting and critically injuring a customer in front of his market, according to police.
The victim, identified by friends as a Haight resident named Mike, was under the knife Wednesday afternoon, clinging to his life. The Chihuahua, named Gizmo, is fine and being cared for by friends.
The disagreement began in Fred’s New Lite Supermarket on Haight Street, between Masonic Avenue and Ashbury Street. Haight district resident Don Todd was in the shop when the altercation began. He said Mike was in the store with Gizmo when the merchant, Sam Kazzouh, went to stack shelves nearby and “pushed Gizmo aside with his foot.”
That angered Mike, who thought Kazzouh kicked Gizmo, and Mike began yelling and threatening Kazzouh, Todd said. Mike stood in the entrance of the store yelling, “Come out here, Sammy! I’m going to kick your ass!” Todd said.
According to police, Kazzouh then shot Mike in the back. Police Capt. Denis O’Leary said beat cops were less than a block away when they heard the shots and came running. Police found Mike lying on the ground outside the shop, and they immediately took Kazzouh into custody.
Todd said Mike was badly injured, but was lying on the ground shouting, “Somebody get my dog!” Gizmo had run across the street.
According to the Kazzouh’s brother, Mike Kazzouh, they have had a gun in the shop for 15 years but have never used it before. He said his brother might have felt threatened.
“My brother got scared and thought [Mike] had something on him,” Mike Kazzouh said. “He’s not violent, but you know, if someone steps on your toe, you have to defend yourself, and I think that’s what happened.”
He said he knows the victim as well, who he described as “a good guy.”
“But he’s like my brother. He has a temper if you push him. He doesn’t think,” Mike Kazzouh said. “It’s not like he’s a bad person, and neither is my brother. I think it’s just a bad moment for both of them.”
Police ultimately gave Gizmo to Rick Braun, a friend of the victim and owner of psychedelic clothing store Positively Haight Street. Braun held Gizmo’s leash in his store as police continued to collect evidence down the street. Gizmo trembled in her pink sweater, which read “One of a kind,” under the glow of a lit, tie-dyed velvet wall hanging.
Braun and Todd both said they had a hard time believing Sam Kazzouh could be the shooter.
“Sammy’s always been cool, calm and collected. He’s kind of quiet and shy,” Todd said. “I guess it’s those people you have to worry about — they’re always the serial killers.”
Staff writer Mike Aldax contributed to this report.