(ABC News) -- When a stranger walked into InterAsian Market & Deli around midday on Friday and asked to speak to the owner, Somboon Wu and his father, Keosavanh Xayarath, found it odd.
Xayarath, who owns the Nashville, Tenn., market, and his son both grew wary when the man handed them a plain envelope addressed simply to “owner,” and then told them it contained money.
At that point, fearing a “crazy scam,” Wu refused to take the envelope, even though the man became insistent. The man eventually left, but came back a few minutes later with the envelope, which he placed onto the counter before leaving the store.
Wu and his father contacted their attorney and asked if he could examine the contents of the envelope with them, and he did. When they saw what was inside, they were all shocked.
The envelope contained about $400 in cash, along with a note from someone — Wu believes the mystery man who dropped off the note was the robber — who confessed to having held up the store at gunpoint 11 or 12 years ago.
“I am a drug addict,” the letter opened. The writer continued to explain that he no longer used drugs but wanted to make amends for the crime, which he explained in detail, down to the color of the car in which he made his getaway.
The letter concluded, “I hope you will accept this money and find forgiveness.” It was signed: “Peace be with you. Anonymous.”
In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Wu said the note was compelling, and added that it was not hard to forgive the man who’d robbed his father so many years ago. Since the suspect’s face was covered, the police didn’t get a good description of him, and he was never found.
Asked if he or his father planned to get police involved now, Wu replied: “Oh, no, no, absolutely not. That was my dad’s concern, was … that if this becomes a larger news [story] that we might get him in trouble, and that’s why I wanted to — he doesn’t have to worry about the police or anything else like that.”
Wu said he believes the man’s recent actions were “pretty inspirational,” and he had a special message for him: “I, we, just wanted to let him know that our family forgives him, and that I think everybody out there appreciates what he’s done,” Wu said.
Wu said it must have taken a great deal of courage for the man to come back and apologize. He now regrets not opening the letter in the man’s presence when it was first delivered.
“What he’s done is, he’s probably inspired some people and let people know that ‘Hey, there are good people out there,’ and sometimes we need to give people a second chance no matter, sometimes, how hard it is,” Wu said. “I think he’s a good person, but like I said, sometimes you get in a really bad situation … at that time he said he was a drug addict, so — and that’s not really an excuse, but I think from what you read from this letter, he really is a person with a great heart. He just went down the wrong path.”
Wu said the man actually stole around $300, but returned about $400.
“Maybe he charged himself interest,” Wu said, laughing.