Simon Choi, owner of Tom’s Liquor in Los Angeles, recently received an apology from Precious Hayes for looting his store during the L.A. riots 25 years ago.
On April 29, 1992, Hayes, then 20 years old, was part of a group of people that looted nearby shops, a story that she has since told her 9-year-old grandchildren London and Paris.
“I was hand in hand, slipping, falling, taking food, taking liquor,” Hayes told NBC News at the L.A. Riots Peace Parade in Koreatown on Saturday.
One of the stores she stole from was Tom’s Liquor, located on Florence Avenue and Normandie Avenue.
The store was “ground zero” for the riots, according to Curbed.
More than 200 liquor stores were destroyed in the riot, congresswoman Karen Bass said, but Tom’s is still up and running today.
Choi also attended the parade, standing near Hayes, who took the opportunity to approach him and apologize for her actions a quarter of a century later.
This time the atmosphere was much different.
“During the riots I was a partaker in the madness,” Hayes told Choi. “I am so honored to have the opportunity to apologize. I am so remorseful for my actions.”
Choi, who has since rebuilt his store, accepted her apology and recalled the time Tom’s was broken into.
But he was shocked Hayes still remembered him after all these years later.
“I never expected this,” Choi told NBC. “I am very happy today to be friends.”
Hayes said she is grateful and hopes that this turning point in her life teaches an important lesson that it’s never too late to fix your mistakes.
“The message is not to participate, not do things in the heat of the moment [because] later you’ll be sorry,” Hayes explained.