Woman arrested for allegedly running over party store owner

Party store owner seriously hurt in early Saturday incident in Kentwood

T&J Party Store, Kentwood
Surveillance video shows three customers causing a disturbance at T&J Party Store in Kentwood before the owner was run over outside. (April 22, 2017)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman accused of running over a convenience store owner after going on a tirade inside the store could face a judge for the first time in the case on Tuesday.

The 57-year-old owner was seriously injured early Saturday outside the T & J Party Store on Shaffer Avenue at 29th Street in Kentwood.

Surveillance video from inside the store before the victim was hit shows her arguing with the suspect and two teens. As the three left, they knocked over shelves and threw merchandise.

The owner chased after them and confronted them again in the parking lot. Store management told 24 Hour News 8 that she was then run over as the suspects took off.

Family members said the victim, who they asked be identified only as Christina, sustained pelvic injuries, a broken leg and bleeding on her brain.

Store management said the dispute was over the price of a bottle of liquor — a difference of a dollar or less. From liquor purchase to alleged crime, the incident lasted 12 minutes.

The Kentwood Police Department said the suspects turned themselves into the police and the suspected driver was arrested. Officers said the suspects are 27, 17, and 16 years old. None of their names were immediately released pending the filing of charges.

Police Chief Tom Hillen said he was disheartened but not surprised by what he saw in the video.

“The escalation of things is growing. It’s certainly not diminishing,” Hillen told 24 Hour News 8. “As we go on, we start to see more of that type of behavior and it’s certainly not acceptable and we as a community shouldn’t allow it to become acceptable either.”

T & J closed Monday so loved ones of the victim could tend to her as she recovered at the hospital.

One man brought flowers and a card to give to the victim’s daughter, who stopped briefly at the store.

“I feel bad for you,” Ed Pollastrello, a regular customer at the store, told the owner’s daughter as she began to cry.

He spoke to her about how much he valued her mother and the family’s business.

“It’s family,” he told 24 Hour News 8. “I live at Wingate [Apartments] and this is neighborhood. This is part of my community… People need to step back and be more patient.”

As of late Monday afternoon, prosecutors had not received the case to decide on charges.

While the suspected driver was arrested and held without bond, the teens who were with her were released and it wasn’t immediately clear if they would face any charges.