published Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Words, not bullets

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    Staff photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press Robert Schreane, president of North Brainerd Community Council, talks about the recent shootings at Kanku's gas station during a North Brainerd Community Council meeting at the Brainerd Recreation Center.

A community meeting to talk about stopping violence around the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's convenience store fizzled Saturday when the store owners didn't appear.

Shankao Chaudhari said neither he nor his nephew, who co-owns the store, were contacted by the North Brainerd Community Council for a meeting. He said he would be open to meeting with community leaders to try and improve safety in the area.

"My family works at the store. This is for them, too," he said. "We all have a bottom goal of making the community safer."

Two people have died in recent shootings at the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's, sparking a flurry of meetings last week.

Leaders point to increasing security at the store as one short-term solution. Others say it will take a combined effort by property owners, government officials, police, churches and schools to attack the root causes of young men doing violence to each other.

But first, city leaders, police, business owners and residents need to focus in the same direction, Robert Schreane, chairman of the North Brainerd Community Council, said during Saturday's meeting at the Brainerd Recreation Center.

Enforcing codes on business and property owners to clean up blight, such as empty buildings with boarded-up windows and trash-strewn vacant lots, would be a good start, he said.

On Thursday, City Councilmen Peter Murphy and Russell Gilbert and city police Sgt. Todd Royval met with the Kanku's owners, who agreed to have security on duty seven days a week with an extra officer after 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Assistant Police Chief Mike Williams said the station is in Delta Zone, which has between eight and 10 officers on peak shifts. Police said they cannot station officers at the store but use crime suppression units and saturation patrols to keep a lid on violence.

Sgt. Royval said the crime suppression unit had identified trends in the area six months ago and had taken in gang members in a series of operations. But police action alone won't solve the problems, he said.


* June 2005 -- Despite a neighborhood petition, the Chattanooga City Council OKs zoning for the Kanku's on Wilcox Boulevard. Petitioners say the area is crime-ridden and underpoliced. They argue having a convenience store selling beer will only make things worse.

* January 2009 -- Police are present when a black Hummer speeds into the Kanku's parking lot and several young men begin yelling and flashing gang signs at patrons. Officers put down a disorder and find open alcohol, a pistol and bags of marijuana in the Hummer.

* July 30, 2009 -- Anthony Blocker, 28, is shot in the chest outside the Kanku's about 5:30 p.m.

* Jan. 9 -- Jonathan Lawrence is fatally shot. Montez Davis -- whom police call "a validated gang member" -- is charged with first-degree murder.

* Feb. 27 -- Terrance Etchison is fatally shot in the parking lot. Jamaal Byrd is charged with first-degree murder.

Source: Newspaper archives

"Crime kind of moves, it'll hit hot spots all over the city," Sgt. Royval said.

He said the Tunnel and Wilcox boulevards intersection and the surrounding blocks are in gang territories where rival members often will cross paths, resulting in violence. He wouldn't name the gangs, saying it might spark competition to be recognized.

But without community involvement, police have little information to work with, he said.

"We might drive by a house 17 times in a week and we don't know that's a particular house that sells drugs," the sergeant said.

"But the people living nearby see it," he said. "And when a shooting happens they say, 'Why didn't you guys see this, you know they were selling drugs there?' but we didn't because we're not there 24/7 like they are."

On Friday, Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Beck held a rally across the street from Kanku's to highlight violence in the area and call for a "cease-fire."

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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fftspam said...

Why should they show up? They are not the problem.

Were the Kanku owners responsible when Dr Deanna Duncan was car-jacked at the light at Wilcox and Tunnel last year?

Rhetorical question- with the known violence on this corner, why does the Beer Board approve another permit across the street?

Do the TFP's journalists and editors even read their own newspaper or other local media? When did researching a story get thrown out?

March 7, 2010 at 1:53 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

WHen did researching a story become a pert of journelism? Facts are only used if they can be twisted, altered or misstated by reporters. The worst thing they could do is present a truthful, logical, fact based story to the public instead of the one sided baloney they hoodwink the readers with.

Cops know it's a bad area, so why is it the store owners problem? It isn't, the cops just do';t want to look the fools here so the finger pointing starts.

March 7, 2010 at 8:23 a.m.
Beamis said...

The owners of the Kanku store owe the members of this bogus community council nothing. They have staked their own money, sweat and honest effort to run a business in a bad section of town. What kind of thanks do they get for providing this service to the community? Nothing but finger pointing and the usual hand wringing about the need for these productive entrepreneurs to provide more security. Oh the inhumanity!

If I were Mr. Chaudhari I'd start looking for another part of the city to operate in which to operate his business and let that corner rot away just like the rest of the neighborhood that surrounds it.

Why is it that there are no members of that local community that own and run these businesses? Why is it always immigrants, usually Asian, that are willing to put up the money and work long hard hours to achieve success? Maybe that would be a better topic of discussion for the community council than merely pointing fingers at others.

March 7, 2010 at 9:25 a.m.
Amos_Ives_Root said...

A 29 year old man in a button up shirt and a sweater vest walks into a convenience store, argues with the attendant, then asks the attendant to step outside, where the sweater vest guy shoots him in the upper torso.

For some reason I don't think this was a stickup.

I would guess drug related.

March 7, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.
xyzyra said...

What does boarded up buildings and trash have to do with someone getting so angry that they go to the trunk of their car, pull out a weapon and gun down someone, all because of a disgareement? Do people like Mr. Schreane even think before they speak? Or do they just say things that's been said so often that they think it sounds intelligent? So they repeat it over and over, no realizing just how unintelligent they prove themselves to be.

Why isolate yourselves by running off businesses from the area? If you run off Mr. Chaudhari business you're just likely to end up with another one of those empty boarded up buildings you complain about.

Then there's all these so called experts that label everything in the black community as gang related. Who just want don't want to lose their position and end up with a reduced paycheck. When are black people going to stop looking to others for validation and self work? Instead you should begin to look inward to solve your own problems? Instead you keep inviting more and more people in who only see you as an opportunity to make more money off your misery. Then you cry about why so many young black males are wasting away in prison? Well, dah! What did you expect the police to come in and do? Actually solve the issues and problems for you? No! They're there to bring in revenue to the city. Meet quotas. Get all the overtime they can get. Private prisons are booming off your misery. Get off your knees! Black folks! Stop looking to the sky for that manna to fall in your hands. If and when it does, it's more likely to be stale, hit you right smack in the head and knock you unconscious anyway. Get up PEOPLE! GET UP!! Before it's too late!!

March 7, 2010 at 3:45 p.m.
seyville said...

I just don't understand the nature of this meeting. Are the members of this group exploiting this tragedy to run an immigrant business out of business? They should be offering to help the business owner instead. Otherwise, they're using the same practices often used over the years to exclude them and keep them away from certain areas. That's not a good idea when the once persecuted becomes the persecutor of others.

March 7, 2010 at 6:06 p.m.
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