National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

After attack, stores raise money for cos. in need

By Brecken Branstrator

January 31, 2014

El Cajon, Calif.--A California jeweler who was injured when a customer attacked him with a hatchet in his store has inspired a fund to help other local businesses in similar situations.

According to the El Cajon police, 24-year-old Travis Kelley struck Hamlin’s Jewelers owner Carl Hamlin numerous times on the head with a hatchet with a hammer head on one end during an attempted armed robbery on Jan. 22. Kelley has since been arrested and arraigned in court on several charges. 

The incident report said that Hamlin fell behind the desk following the attack but was able to retrieve a small handgun. Kelley managed to wrestle the gun from him before fleeing the store on foot.

Kelley then fled in a car driven by 21-year-old Ali Toombs. Toombs was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and robbery.

Hamlin, who is 75, suffered multiple injuries in the attack, including a fractured skull. He told National Jeweler that he was back to work within a few days.

Neighboring businesses took action to help out Hamlin. Rachel Gaiser of nearby Hess Family Jewelry & Loan started getting the word out that the company was collecting money for the “Helping Hamlin” fund to help him cover his hospital bills and medical expenses.

“We’ve known Hamlin since we opened over four years ago, and he’s the first one that came to us and said, ‘We’re not competition. Let’s work with each other in what we’re doing,’” Gaiser said of the store owner.

Hamlin decided that instead of using the money himself, he wanted the fund to be a way of helping other nearby businesses that might need assistance of any kind, especially in terms of criminal activity, for things such replacing broken locks and the like.

“We sit at the top of a hill here, and there’s a small group of businesses within a few blocks,” Hamlin said. “I wanted it to be a fund for the merchants here in case anyone needs anything, and to be able to start the conversation if they need to alert us for help.”

Gaiser said the fund has gotten a lot of contributions so far, and they continue to accept donations.

“We’ve had a really positive response,” she said. “We’ve had people coming in to the store to give money that we’ve never seen in the area before.”

In addition to accepting checks at the Hess Family Jewelry and Loan store in El Cajon, located at 2389 Fletcher Pkwy., #102, people who want to contribute can also do so through PayPal, by logging into their account and sending a payment to