A&E Interviews Gun Store Manager who Fought Back in L.A. Riots 25 Years Later

A&E interviewed David Joo, who fought back armed looters during the L.A. Riots. (Photo: A&E)

The A&E Network recently aired “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later,” a documentary on the momentous Rodney King Riots. The documentary follows how the riots scarred L.A. and how they continue to affect people to this day, 25 years later.

Among the people affected by the riots were those who lived and worked in Koreatown, a Korean neighborhood in L.A. When riots and looting broke out in their community, Koreans famously took up arms in self-defense.

L.A. Burning interviewed one man who fought back, former gun store manager David Joo. “At that time I was at the gun store, and I happened to receive a phone call from my employer,” said Joo. “He also owned a jewelry store right down the block there.”

“And he said ‘David, we’re having a gunfight in here, so can you just come over and help us?'”

And help he did. David put on soft body armor and grabbed a pistol to help ward off the well-armed looters.

The actions by Joo and others fighting back looters has long been held as one of the more recent affirmations of civilian gun ownership and gun rights. These people proved that the Second Amendment is not about hunting.

“We already called the police and when I arrived [there], at the beginning I could see the LAPD vehicle with like, three, four officers there. So ‘Oh we have the police here, we are safe,” Joo thought. “But as the gun fighting started? they ran away. Goodbye!”

“What I saw from across the street is a lot of looters, they were armed, heavily armed, and they were shooting at us.”

“My experience was that, you know, whoever was attacked and looted Koreatown was not African-American, it was more likely Hispanic, uh, cholos, or the gang bangers.”

Joo didn’t immediately open fire into a crowd, even when the shooting began. “Bullets were coming to my face from here and there so i thought ‘I’m going to get shot!'”

The people of Koreatown famously took up arms during the L.A. Riots. (Photo: A&E)

“So naturally I’m just trying to protect my face, my hands are like this momentarily, then I was thinking ‘Oh wait a minute, what am I doing?’ So I just put them down.”

After getting his bearings, Joo started to fight back. “Whoever I saw actually having guns I didn’t hesitate to shoot them. Otherwise I could have gotten shot.”

See Also: Top 5 Guns to Defend Against Looters

“Some of them were popping up from there and there, with either shotguns [or] handguns. In retrospect, it was a dangerous moment, and I was scared, but, you know, even though you’re scared you don’t have much options. You have to fight.”

“Korean people were very frustrated. Koreatown was damaged and destroyed.”

The A&E documentary was produced by Executive Producer John Singleton. “I believe the 1992 LA Uprising has never truly been given a voice until now…we’ve attempted to chronicle the untold stories and unique perspectives of people whose lives were profoundly affected by this event,” said Singleton.

About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. His ambition is to follow Thomas Paine, as a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • em July 13, 2018, 12:07 pm

    I was working a about 10 miles away from the L.A. Riots, and I clearly remember hearing from a co-worker that hoodlums were about to rise up in Pomona, a city further east and about 30 miles away from the L.A. Riots. That was scary because I would have been sandwiched in between. If we have another event like that, I think it will be much worse with insurrection and riots breaking out all over the place. That’s why I always carry an bug out bag and less-than-lethal weapons on my body everywhere and all the time. When I first began doing this, some people ridiculed me.

    Back then it was certain groups who were causing riots. This time it will include many groups like antifa, and the devastation and danger will be immense. It seems that the government including LE has not learned from that event. They’re apathetic and even lethargic. Many Koreans still feel resentful towards the LAPD for not having done the job they were supposed to do.

    But now we have another problem, this time with black criminals targeting Chinese. A rapper composed a “song” that advocates for home invading Chinese. He describes how most Chinese don’t use banks and instead store their money in their homes. This has caused many problems, including assaults and home invasions in a Sacramento neighborhood where Chinese reside. You won’t see this in the news unless the news station is in the area where the crime has occurred. This doesn’t fit the narrative that the media perpetuate, so they conveniently ignore this problem. The Chinese in that Sacramento neighborhood finally organized patrols because LE wasn’t doing their job. There’s video footage of attacks by black youth in that neighborhood. The video that really affected me is of a woman being assaulted as she exits or enters her car at night. It happens so fast that the violence of action surprises her and leaves her completely helpless. It angered me every time I saw it, but it also reinforced the concept of being in condition yellow.

    I experienced an attempted home invasion in the late morning hours while my partially disabled mother was home. I had already been on the phone with a sheriff, describing a suspicious luxury vehicle and what I thought was one person knocking on the door. By the time the three hoodlums ran toward my home from the car, my mother’s hands were shaking but I told the sheriff on the phone that I was grabbing my shotgun. Brandishing my shotgun scared them off and made them think twice. I think the four criminals who came to our place assumed we were Chinese since most residents in my city are Chinese (but my particular area is mostly Korean). Amazingly, one of the sheriffs who arrived acted in a belligerent manner and seemed angry with me for not having said something to the guy who knocked on our door. She preferred that they remain on the streets and continue their crime spree. They were caught and now serving prison sentences. You would think that people like that sheriff would be grateful for having caught and put away those criminals. Instead I was lectured about “racism” and how I should simply tell anyone at my door to go away. I guess some LEOs don’t want to be bothered capturing criminals.

    I then did research and was shocked to find many home invasions and attempted ones all over my neighborhood and city before and a few months afterward. This was extremely rare for many decades. It seems these hoodlums don’t have fear of LE because in some cases, some homes were invaded twice in one day! This had been occurring for several months and probably years, but the website doesn’t go back far enough to check. I suspect some home are vacant but some aren’t. Criminals doing such crimes are emboldened after successfully invading a home. But I then realized that the four to five gun stores around me are mostly Chinese owned. More and more Chinese are buying guns for protection because they realize it’s the only way to deter crime. I don’t trust the FBI especially after what’s happened in the past with coverups and corruption. I suspect that crime is worsening even though we’re being told that it’s decreasing. Perhaps data is being manipulated in such a way that half truths are being published. Either way, it has further reinforced the fact that we as individuals are the first line of defense. I realized this even more after my attempted home invasion. The first sheriff finally showed up after the car the criminals came in left. So had I not been properly armed (and worse had I not been home), my mother would have been a victim of a crime. One of the hoodlums was intent on breaking in because he was wearing thick green gloves, and he had already jumped one of our gates and made onto the our backyard. My mother would have been oblivious due to her location in the home and health conditions.

  • Cassandra (of Troy) May 1, 2017, 8:11 am

    Re: The police are supposed to/will protect you

    The following items can be used to effectively refute this commonly made (most often by anti-2A cultists/their supporters) claim.:

    (The Tracy Thurman case)
    (A case that makes Thurman look like a love tap)
    (These 2 cases are the legal foundation for refuting the claim & as such are indisputable)
    (Confirmation from LE itself)
    (A contemporaneous review of the Rodney King ‘uprising’)
    (The Freddy Gray riot)
    (The June 2016 San Jose anti-Trump ‘protest’)
    (The UC Berkeley anti-Milo ‘protest’ earlier this year)

    Note that the above citations are from official or ‘unbiased’ sources making them difficult to easily dispute/dismiss subsequently solidifying their acceptability as FACT & presented properly (i.e., conversationally friendly & helpful & w/o anger/smugness/triumphalism) are QUITE useful & VERY damaging to the LE=Safety/Protection claim. I’ve been doing such for years w/ this info & its effect on the uninformed (& the anti-2A cultist) is a thing to behold, it’s also good urge the uninformed to ask a cop or lawyer about the veracity of the abovementioned ‘inconvenient truths’.

    Hope this helps out.

  • jjkarn April 29, 2017, 9:10 am

    There appears to be a problem with endemic cowardice in the LAPD. They disarm the law-abiding, then run away when rioting breaks out, and it wasn’t just during the Rodney King riots. They did the same thing during the riots in the 1960s. More recently in the Dorner manhunts, due to their incapacitating fear, they shot-up numerous innocent civilians, who only survived due to their own good luck and to the flagrant incompetence, poor marksmanship, and non-existent tactics of the police.

    • Ryan April 30, 2017, 12:03 pm

      Could not agree with you more. They shot up a blue Tacoma in Riverside with paper delivery ladies inside. But when you look at where the majority of their bullets hit it was not even close to the “intended target” all over the house that was in front of the truck you would have thought they were shooting at a fleeing suspect. Civilian cops can’t shoot for shit. Don’t know how to lead or compensate fo distance. My supply Sgt in the Army can probably out shoot any cop in Riverside or L.A.

  • Joe April 28, 2017, 11:59 am

    Ignorant & disrespectful politicians have no interest in whether you live or die. Remember that statement & simple concept. They are interested in their own survival & employment and that is all. They are human. They carry their own guns or if they don’t have the physical agility, they hire guards to do it for them. They cannot control every single persons destiny or demise. Therefore the politician directs his/her concern towards the overall outcome of the riot or situation for the good of most of the people. Additionally, there are not enough police officers to protect every single persons destiny or demise either. Based on the above, who is ultimately responsible for you & your family’s safety in 99% of all situations? You are. Once more… YOU ARE. Therefore, why would YOU allow anyone to limit the amount of rounds inside your protection device (gun)?? Or unbelievably take them away altogether?! The citizens of this country need to take back control of their own destiny from the ignorant & disrespectful politicians. It’s not fair to YOU or ME. YOU AND ME SHOULD SPREAD THIS SIMPLE CONCEPT TO ALL CITIZENS.

    • David April 28, 2017, 3:26 pm

      Amen to you. Working on it out here in controlifornia.

    • Wake-Up Citizens!! April 28, 2017, 5:33 pm

      Joe: I completely agree with you my friend! We have to do what we have to do. And the God damned Constitution says we can have firearms and protect ourselves and our families. To hell with these ultra liberal, simple-minded so called politicians. All the politicians care about is pandering to the blacks, the muslims, the he-she’s and on and on. Stand up folks before it is too late for your ass and mine!!!!!

  • JS April 28, 2017, 11:29 am

    Asians are some of the most ardent supporters of the 2ndAD. They came from countries where this freedom didn’t exist. Not much can be said about the looters other than they are just milking the quilt of “white liberals”.

  • Gubbins April 28, 2017, 11:21 am


  • joefoam April 28, 2017, 9:45 am

    No better reason for the general public to arm themselves than this example. The police will not save you!

  • Chuck April 28, 2017, 7:55 am

    While the police may have run away from this particular incident, there were numerous ones where they forcibly disarmed the Koreans who were trying to defend their lives and property from these heathen bastards. This was disgusting and I hope the officers that did this think about it and be proud of themselves.

  • SuperG April 24, 2017, 1:45 pm

    I know we love our racism, but it sounds to me like Americans were protecting themselves from criminals, because the police ran away. I’m glad they did, and I would have helped had I been there, regardless of their ethnicity. I wish the cops who ran away had been dismissed and never allowed to wear a badge again too. They did not act like the cops that I know, who would have loved to get into a fire fight with a bunch of criminals. They were a disgrace to police everywhere.

    • rt66paul April 28, 2017, 10:36 am

      Call it racism if you want. The racism is with the gangs that took after the merchants in Koreatown. The rioters were racist by banding together against a group of merchants who may have been or not, but they were protecting themselves.

      It is well know in LA, that if you are caught stealing in a Korean business, you can get a beating – they don’t play that game and no credit. The Koreans are tough and are not well liked for their ways. In there culture, punishment needs to be dealt. The sucessful Chinese and Muslim owners will give a little credit or notice when something is stolen(at the end of the month) – they get back later and just overcharge (next month) if they are regulars.

  • KUETSA April 22, 2017, 7:18 pm

    NY Governor Andrew Cuomo as he signed The NY SAFE Act into law, limiting NY citizens to SEVEN round magazines – and outlawing the sale of AR15 type semi-automatic rifles.

    • Joseph Burke April 28, 2017, 10:25 am

      Has any one ever noticed that the states in our nation that seem to be the most hell bent on banning guns are our coastal boarder states? Makes it much easier for an invading force to form beachheads when the face an unarmed or under-armed populace. NY Governor Andrew Commie Cuomo is just doing the job that Comrades Michael Bloomburg and George Soros have paid him to do, that being to sell out the American people and to urinate on the Constitution all in the name of The One World Order.

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