WASHINGTON - The owner of an Anacostia pizza restaurant said she is overwhelmed with gratitude after donors came up with enough money to install surveillance cameras inside her business.
It is an effort sparked by a community activist who had seen the place robbed one too many times.
Last Wednesday night, a gunman walked up the sidewalk and into this restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. He walked up to the counter and demanded cash before robbing a customer.
It is the fifth time this place has been robbed in the last year. But it is what happened afterwards that is changing the way Mama’s Pizza is going to be doing business.
Customers were furious about the latest robbery, but one in particular had an idea.
"It's time for the community to stop residing and being residents and be citizens and practice citizenship, and when you practice citizenship, you come together and you support each other during times like this and that's what everybody did,” said community activist Ron Moten. “Everybody came in and it was all hands on deck -- over a hundred people donated.”
They donated to a GoFundMe account, which was enough to buy badly needed surveillance cameras and an alarm system that will be installed for free.
"It was overwhelming,” said Fatma Nayir, the owner of Mama’s Pizza. “No words can describe. I'm so, so appreciative.”
She loves her customers and said she would never consider putting a Plexiglas shield at the counter like so many other Southeast D.C. businesses do.
"It is just like a family here, all of my customers, we know everybody,” Nayir said.
And the pizza here is made fresh daily.
Two customers we spoke with inside the restaurant said they decided to come in for lunch after hearing what had happened to Mama’s Pizza. They had never been here before.
"And here we are and the food was great,” said Sherry Johnson-Battle. “The service was great and it's sad that the people had to come in here and do that to you.”
"We only set out to raise $800 and A Wash and other people are donating their services, so we are getting a free installation and other things,” said Moten. “So everything just came together.”
Tony Wash, the owner of A Wash and Associates, is going to put the security system in on Wednesday at no charge.
"I know people who frequent this place and they love the place,” said Wash. “She supports our community. She hires people out of our community, and like Ron said, we have to really protect and support those who support us.”
"Everybody showed their support,” said Nayir. “It was overwhelming.”
The more than $4,000 raised so far is more than enough to pay for the security system. Whatever is left over will be going to Mama’s Pizza.