UPDATE: Hany Baransi is now saying the store will be closed, but vows to reopen:
Original Post: The owner of a Columbus, Ohio restaurant targeted last week in a machete attack — which the FBI is investigating as terror — says he will be closing the store and moving back to Israel, local media is reporting.
I first reported on the attack here at PJ Media last Friday.
Hany Baransi, who has operated stores in the Columbus area for years, including the Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, is saying that he lives in fear after the attack:
BREAKING: Nazareth Restaurant & Deli, site of last week’s machete attack, will close permanently, owner says. Details to follow.
— 10TV.com (@10TV) February 18, 2016
— Kevin Landers (@Kevin10TV) February 18, 2016
The store reopened on Monday with many from the community crowding the restaurant and even some of the victims returning to show their support:
— Rob Wells (@robwsyx6) February 16, 2016
Despite immediate claims from law enforcement that the attack was “random,” it is now being investigated as an act of terrorism:
BREAKING: Machete attack in NE Columbus being investigated as act of terrorism. Details re: suspect Mohamed Barry on @wsyx6 at 6pm!
— Brooks Jarosz (@BrooksWSYX6) February 16, 2016
As I reported here on Tuesday, the suspect who was killed by police following the attack, Mohamed Barry, had been investigated by the FBI four years ago following extremist statements he made, and he was on the terror watch list at the time of the attack.
Other reports indicate that Barry, an immigrant from Guinea who was in the U.S. on a green card, shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he lunged at police with the machete and a knife, at which point he was shot in the neck and died.
Barry’s uncle said that he had texted him a message in both Arabic and English immediately prior to the attack. The FBI has confiscated his phone.
The decision by Baransi to close his store will no doubt come as a blow to his longtime patrons and well-wishers who have expressed their support for the victims of last week’s attack.
Many reports say that Baransi, who is an Arab Christian from Israel born in Haifa, is a much-beloved figure in the community.
In recent days he had expressed a tone of defiance in the face of last week’s attack, saying he would get an even larger Israeli flag to display in the restaurant.
But as the weight of last week’s horrific attack sets in for Baransi, it apparently was too much.