Clergy want South Side store shut down

April 4, 2012 5:01:39 AM PDT
Area clergy are calling for the closing of a store in Chicago's Auburn-Gresham neighborhood where six people were shot last week. One person was killed.

The nephew of Chicago native and NBA player Dwyane Wade was among those shot and wounded outside the Bishop Golden Store at 79th and Bishop last Thursday.

The store is closed for now. The owners put a padlock on it Monday after they say they were given four citations by police. They are now considering closing the store for good.

"If this is going to cause me a lot of headache, this is what I got to do," said Mahmoud Mashal, owner.

Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church is leading the charge for the city to shut down the store. He said it's a magnet for trouble and has become the unofficial office of a street gang.

"We're asking the City Council and asking the mayor, give us some tools that can close down nuisances like this," Pfleger said. "Because they're not just gang hangouts where now somebody has been killed and five other people shot, but they've become nuisances to the community."

Mashal says that he has tried to keep gangs from hanging out in front of his store and has called police on them, but police are slow to respond.

"I tell them to go home. They don't listen to me," he told ABC7.

Ryan Green lives next door to the convenience store and says outbursts of violence have hit close to home. Two bullets from a drive-by shooting hit her building, but she said closing the convenience store is not the answer to ending violence in the neighborhood.

"The answer is sitting down with these young guys, getting them a resource, getting them a building, because most of them are homeless," said Green. "They don't have anywhere to go. They don't have a way of supporting themselves except doing what they're doing."

Police say the incident is under investigation and that they have their own strategy for identifying problem establishments and trying to reduce gang and gun violence. They say they welcome any help from the public to keep public places safe.