Bodega Owner Convicted After Videotaped Melee

Salah Ahmed said he was acting in self-defense during rampage

A Brooklyn jury Wednesday convicted a bodega owner seen on dramatic security video hitting a teenager with a hammer to break up a melee inside his store.

The jury apparently rejected owner Salah Ahmed's claim of acting to protect his nephew from the teen and his friends, shown in the April 2008 store video rampaging through the Brownsville deli.

Charged with first-degree assault, Ahmed a 36-year-old father of five with no prior arrests, faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced May 28.

Both the prosecution and the defense used the videotape to argue their respective points:  excessive force versus self defense. In its deliberations, the jury also viewed the tape privately before reaching its verdict after five hours over two days.

Ahmed has worked in Brooklyn delis since emigrating from Yemen in the 1980s and was close to two fellow immigrants, distant relatives of his wife, slain by robbers on March 25 in their Crown Heights bodega. Ahmed also bears a long scar on his left cheek that he says thugs had inflicted at a Red Hook deli where he had worked years ago with murder victim Mohammed Mansur Abuzaid.

During the trial, jurors heard testimony from Ahmed's nephew, who was stomped and cut in the attack, and from the teen hit in the head with the hammer.

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