A South Richmond Hill mother of three – allegedly berated for months with threats and insults from workers at a neighborhood auto shop – fears for her life. The store owner, denying all claims, feels her relentless, unfounded complaints are bringing down business.
It is a “he said, she said” argument, potentially tearing a neighborhood apart.
According to Sara*, men at Ken Shaw Auto Repair & Tire Shop, located at 114-17 101st Avenue in South Richmond Hill, verbally harass her as she walks to her nearby home. The group, allegedly consisting of about eight men, shouts racist remarks while drinking and smoking in front of the store.
On one occasion, a harasser allegedly accosted Sara while holding a dog as he tried to provoke the animal by barking.
According to business owner Ken Shaw, he passed a woman while walking his two dogs with a friend. The friend said “woof woof” to one of the dogs, prompting the woman to ask if they were barking at her. Shaw and his friend gave each other a look and kept walking down the block. The woman allegedly then told the men she was calling the police on them and supposedly dialed 9-1-1 in front of them. According to Shaw, he instructed his friend to ignore her because she had called the police and the landlord to complain in the past.
“I follow all the rules. I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to do,” said Shaw. “I don’t argue with anyone. Since I’ve been here, all the tenants in the building, not just her, have complained about different things, and that makes the business bad. I am getting tired of being harassed.”
Shaw claimed he spoke with police the last time they came to his house to pat him down – an occurrence he claims happens frequently – regarding filing a counter complaint about the woman’s harassment. According to Shaw, the responding officer scoffed at his request, reminding him that while he had only been in the neighborhood for several months, the complainants lived there for decades.
He added that each time the police have investigated, they have found nothing.
According to Sara, the business is open 24/7, with people coming and going at all hours of the night. She claimed people bring Rottweilers and other scary-looking dogs in the middle of the night, which she alleges are used for dog fighting.
Sara also accused the men of running an alleged prostitution ring. According to her, she overheard a man say “I’ll bring some pieces to you tonight at 7:30 and you can pick the ones you want.” At 7:30, Sara went downstairs and said she saw the same man with five girls.
Shaw denied completely.
“I am not a trafficker,” he said. “I’m just here to work.”
According to a police source, a report has never been filed against this business. Officers investigated the premises and are aware that the owner has two dogs on site.
“From what he says, he’ll take care of it,” said the source.
Since the business moved into the building nine months ago, Sara complained to 3-1-1 six times. According to her, the first two times she called, her concerns were dismissed as being unimportant. The third time, 3-1-1 officials responded to the complaint. Sara claimed this alerted the men to the fact that she had been the person lodging complaints against them.
That caused the harassment to escalate, she asserts.
Sara alleged the men threatened her, telling her she was asking for trouble. A man threw rocks at her window while cursing and screaming at her, she claims. Sara said her teenage daughter became terrified while leaving the train station one day after spotting a man who had harassed her mother.
“She got really scared,” said Sara. “She thought they were after us.”
Shaw believes the neighborhood’s predominantly Punjabi population dislikes having a business owned by someone of a different ethnic background in the area, assuming they hope to drive him out with their complaints.
“She wants me to get arrested, and if I do get arrested, I am going to pay the bail and get back out,” said Shaw. “Even if I stand outside with a few of my friends, she will come outside and tell us that we can’t stand there. We are on the sidewalk.”
A man close to the situation stated kids go to the tire shop, have parties and blast music.
“It’s a lot of ‘he said, she said’ and you don’t know who’s telling the truth and who’s making stuff up,” said the man.
*name has been changed to protect identity
With additional reporting by Timothy Petropoulos