Kanku's agrees to beef up security

Kanku's agrees to beef up security

March 5th, 2010 by Cliff Hightower in News

Staff Photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Eddie Holmes of the Chattanooga Housing Authority speaks to gathered officials while Kanku store owners Ashish, left, and Shankar Chaudhari, center, listen on Thursday. Law enforcement officials, city officials, and the owners of the Kanku Citgo store at Tunnel and Wilcox boulevards met at the City Council building on Thursday to discuss the problem of crime in the vicinity of the store.

Staff Photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press...

The owners of a convenience store where three shootings have occurred in the last eight months agreed Thursday to hire more security officers in an effort to help curb the violence.

"Our goal is to make it safe for the area - make everybody safe," said Ashish Chaudhari, owner of Kanku's on Wilcox Boulevard.

City Councilmen Russell Gilbert and Peter Murphy held a 90-minute meeting Thursday night with the owners of Kanku's, asking them to hire additional security officers who work a longer period of time. The meeting was held after two shootings occurred outside the store in the last two months.

Terrance Etchison, 27, was shot in the chest outside Kanku's on Saturday and later died from the wounds. Jamaal Byrd, 29, has been charged with first-degree murder in the case.

On Jan. 9, Jonathan Lawrence, 42, was shot and killed as he was pumping gas. Authorities charged Montez Davis with first degree-murder in that shooting. In July 2009, a 28-year-old man was shot in the chest in the parking lot but was not killed.

Authorities have said the shootings involved gang members and the store lies on the cusp of two competing gangs' territories.

"This is not a Kanku problem," Mr. Gilbert said. "This is a problem for the community, period."

Robert Schreane, a member of the North Brainerd Community Council - a consortium of nine neighborhood associations in the area - said Thursday that the violence is a community problem and the community wants to deal with it.

Mr. Schreane, who was not at Thursday's meeting, said a private meeting with the Kanku's owners is scheduled for this weekend.

"We have some issues besides security," he said.

The agreement made Thursday between Kanku's and the city calls for the store owners to hire an additional police officer besides the one already providing security. The store owners said they will have a security officer at the location seven days a week from 6 p.m. until closing. They will have another officer on premises four days a week from 9 p.m. until closing.

The store owners said they also would talk to another business across the street to see if it would hire a police officer.

"We'll hire another police officer and try to make it as safe as possible," Mr. Chaudhari said. "What is the Chattanooga Police Department going to do?"

Police officials said they have been conducting undercover operations in the area that have nabbed some gang members on drugs and firearms charges.

Mr. Murphy, who represents the area, said he also talked to Mayor Ron Littlefield about using surveillance technology in the neighborhood.

"I believe the surveillance unit will be out there shortly," he said. "I don't know how long they'll be there."

"As long as they need to be," replied Assistant Police Chief Mike Williams, of the police department.