LA MESA, Calif. (KSWB) — Dan Buxton’s business, a Play It Again Sports in La Mesa California, was looted and set on fire Saturday night during riots.

But the response from his community — and one man’s attempt at redemption — have heartened him during a dark time.

“It’s just a roller coaster of emotions that we went straight from the bottom, straight to the top,” Buxton said.

He watched his life’s savings taken away in a matter of minutes Saturday when a day of peaceful protest gave way to destructive chaos. Some opportunists took advantage of the moment to loot, vandalize and burn local businesses.

Buxton watched people shatter the glass of his storefront with his own baseball bats and run off with his merchandise.

When the riot subsided and morning came, Buxton awoke to hundreds of strangers helping him clean up the mess and get back on his feet.

Then, young man approached Buxton and said he needed to make things right.

“He said, ‘Can I talk to you outside?’ And outside in the car he said, ‘I feel horrible, I was not part of the rioting, but I did go into your store and I did take things.’ He gave me back a couple softball bats and a bag full of stuff from Sally’s Beauty and just said he felt bad about it — it’s not who he is.

“I told him that I forgive him, and that I made bad choices when I was young, and you made a bad choice, but now you’re making a good choice,” Buxton said.

Fours days after the riot, dozens of stores remained closed Wednesday and the community is still grappling with how to heal and move on after the cleanup and repairs.

Latest Stories: