If you’re looking for a safe business environment, being neighbors with a martial arts academy might be a good option.
In the past two months, two separate attacks on workers at a shopping center at Polk and California streets were defused by a couple of heroic combat experts.
On March 9, a grocer was allegedly victimized by a chemical-spraying cretin who grabbed cash from the register and fled before he was arrested with the help of Harold Anthony Short Soriano, a teacher at the Eskabo Daan Filipino Martial Arts School, which is upstairs from the market.
A month earlier, the grand master of the school, Robert Castro, “defended the owner of a doughnut shop” during an attack, Soriano said.
Soriano, 41, an Alameda resident and CAD designer, teaches martial arts at the studio two days a week, he said.
The day of the robbery “was just another training day, a normal Friday,” Soriano said.
He was on his way to use the restroom on the first floor when he heard a woman scream from inside the grocery store. He asked the manager what was going on, and he said the cashier had been attacked and his store robbed.
“So I asked, ‘Which way did he go?’” Soriano said.
The suspect, later identified by police as 54-year-old transient John Ellis, was spotted nearby at Polk and Clay streets, Soriano said. He said he knew he had to chase after the guy, yet there was another pressing matter at hand.
“I still had to use the bathroom too,” Soriano said.
But that didn’t stop him.
Soriano said he repeatedly tried to “lock” Ellis down, but he kept coming back for more.
“He was reaching for anything,” Soriano said. “He actually tried to hit me with a Tanqueray bottle, but I got on top of him real quick. I think he was pretty high too. He was bleeding pretty bad, but he kept getting up.”
Soriano also was bloodied in the battle. After feigning surrender again, Ellis pulled out scissors and jabbed Soriano in the chest. He wasn’t seriously injured, but he also wasn’t happy.
“That’s when I said, ‘No more Mr. Nice Guy,’” Soriano said. “On top of that, I sprained my ankle.”
By the time police arrived, Soriano said, Ellis was spent.
For his troubles, the grocery store owner gave Soriano three crates of produce, which he shared with his class and children.
Merchants can thank their lucky ninja stars that a studio full of martial artists looms over the block.
“They should pay us for security,” Soriano joked.