The wife of the Mission Hill hardware store owner killed during an armed robbery Tuesday experienced a frighteningly similar tragedy just seven years ago.
In 2010, Rosie Cruz was working inside another family owned shop in Uphams Corner when a gunman killed her uncle during an armed robbery, a family member said Wednesday.
Now, Cruz, who witnessed that slaying, is returning from a vacation in Puerto Rico to cope with the killing of her husband, Andres Cruz, at AC Hardware on Tuesday, said Angel Martinez, the store owner’s nephew.
“We went through this before, seven years ago,’’ Martinez said Wednesday, standing in the doorway of the family home near Egleston Square.
Rosie Cruz “was traumatized and had to go through the trial,’’ after her uncle, 71-year-old Geraldo Serrano, was fatally shot inside Hermanos Unidos convenience store, Martinez said. “And now she has to come back for this.’’
Police say Andres Cruz, who was 58 and a fixture in Mission Hill, was gunned down Tuesday following a violent struggle with three men who wanted to rob AC Hardware, the subterranean shop he has owned since 1971.
“It’s just devastating,’’ Martinez said, fighting back tears. “It’s shocking. I have no words. I’m speechless.’’
Martinez said Andres and Rosie Cruz married about 13 years ago. Andres Cruz was a hardworking grandfather and father of two adult children from a previous relationship, both in their 30s, he said.
Cruz woke every morning at 6 a.m. to walk his chocolate-colored chihuahua, Mimi, outside his home in Roxbury. Then he would go to AC Hardware, where he was often seen sweeping the sidewalk or greeting neighbors. People would go to his shop to get keys made, buy paint, buy tools, or just to get some advice.
“He was the go-to guy when you needed something,’’ said Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, who represents Mission Hill.
Sanchez said Cruz kept a notebook with names of customers who bought items on credit. If you needed a hammer that cost $10 and you only had $5, he would tell you to pay him the rest later, Sanchez said.
“He’s the last of a bygone era,’’ Sanchez said. “He was the real deal.’’