Adolfo Acosta said he was opening his store in the morning to help who he thought were waiting customers when one man hit him in the back of the head with a handgun.
"He made threats that he was going to kill me," Acosta said. "I said you better kill me or I'll kill you."
Footage from surveillance video shows the 50-year-old store owner struggling with the suspect.
"I moved his hand up and he fired one shot into the air," Acosta said.
The suspect demanded the keys to the store.
"I said no," Acosta said. "I went to my pocket and gave him change for the day -- $800 dollars."
After about 15 seconds, the suspects left with the cash and Acosta ran inside his store for safety.
"I characterize them as extremely violent," said Santa Ana police spokesman Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. "He's not afraid to use the gun."
As the suspects left in a light blue 2006 Chevrolet Silverado crew cab with no license plates, the driver fired two more shots into the air.
The shooter was described as a Hispanic man, 30 to 40 years old and about 5-foot-7. He had short brown hair with a receding hairline and was wearing a brown jacket, jeans and tan work boots.
The other suspect was a heavy-set man wearing a white T-shirt and a black baseball cap.
Acosta has worked hard to build his business for more than a decade and felt compelled to speak up.
"They better just respect our community," Acosta said. "We're not going to tolerate that. We're going to fight back."
Anyone with information is asked to call the Santa Ana Police Department at (714) 245-8422.