TAMPA — When Tutu and Mosheda Hussain returned to their charred livelihood Sunday morning, helplessness had segued to despair.
The proprietors of the Mobil gas station across the street from Busch Gardens said they left their business around 10 p.m. Saturday, undefended against the growing group of protesters that ultimately would loot their establishment.
They returned around 10 hours later to shattered glass, empty shelves, fire damage and graffiti.
“We have no anger really,” said Tutu, 58, a Bangladesh native whose wife (Mosheda) has owned the station since 2006. “But we’re sad that we have running business lost. And now, the last two or three months, the economy has been bad.”
A stream of sympathetic passersby stopped for consoling words Sunday morning as the couple awaited the arrival of police and the property’s owner. At this point, they’re uncertain of the business’ future. That will be up to the landowner, they said.
“We lost everything,” Tutu said. “Definitely we’re sad.”
One of those passing by, 53-year-old Ross Anderson, said he has patronized the station for 15 years.
“It hurts my heart to know that we’re doing this, or this is happening, on the backs of something else,” Anderson said.
“Burning down this gas station makes no sense to me at all. It makes no sense. You just hurt a family, you cost jobs. We’re in the middle of a pandemic right now … and this has added — no pun intended — more fuel to the fire.”
For those wishing to assist the couple, a GoFundMe account has been established. As of Tuesday morning, nearly $2,700 had been raised.