Hammond City Council delays vote on overnight gas station closures

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Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Indiana city council delays vote on overnight gas station closures
The Hammond City Council will consider closing gas stations overnight after a shooting left a Chicago man shot and killed.

HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- Hammond, Indiana will look at a plan to shut down its gas stations during the overnight hours.

The proposal comes after, police said, a 33-year-old Chicago man was shot at a Luke gas station around 2a.m. on June 25. He later died at the hospital.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said violent crime is happening late at night at the city's gas stations. He pointed to a murder that happened at one station just last month.

"What I've noticed as mayor over the last few years is a lot of the crime taking place in our city happens afterhours and at gas stations," McDermott said. "Unfortunately, recently, we had a homicide that took place at a gas station on state line, and I thought, 'Unfortunately, we lost another life.' It was a tragic incident, and it was time to put my foot down and say, 'This is enough.'"

This is just a proposal right now. But if it does go through, most of the city's 37 stations would be required to close from midnight to 5 a.m.

The mayor said he's gotten support from major gas stations and their owners, but not all drivers are sold on this plan.

"If they close down the gas stations, say I'm moving from Chicago to Michigan City, and the gas station is closed, it's a long stretch with no gas stations," said Sam Oatis.

Coming to Hammond to fill up is a daily errand for Cathrine Wieland.

"That would be hard because I go to work overnight, as well. So, I wouldn't be able to get gas before work," Wieland said. "Because the gas is so cheap. We have to go to work, and so, if I have to get gas and I can't get gas, I'm not paying that Chicago price, I'm sorry."

But, the chance to come after midnight could be wrecked for many if a new ordinance, supported by McDermott, becomes law.

"Our gas stations are frequented by people who come into the city from Illinois for cheaper gas, cigarettes and other items, and in this instance a person was killed in our city while patronizing a gas station late at night," McDermott said. "I can't sit back and see innocent people become victims of violent crime."

Some patrons think the ordinance could help.

"Crime's going to happen regardless," said Bridgette Wright. "I mean, closing it at a certain time could probably, it might could help."

Some, however, don't agree with McDermott.

"Criminals, guys who have a criminal-set mind, are going to attack during the daytime, afternoon, evening, night. It doesn't make any difference as long as they have an opportunity to do so," said Russell Jones. "What they need to do is make sure that gas stations, stores that stay open 24 hours have the security that they need."

The proposal comes after, police said, a 33-year-old Chicago man was shot at a Luke gas station around 2a.m. on June 25. He later died at the hospital.

"Regardless of wherever you're at, Chicago, Hammond, South Holland, Dolton, Calumet City, you just got to stay safe," Wright said.

The ordinance would allow gas stations to petition the Board of Public Works and Safety for an exception to the rule.

The city council was supposed to consider the ordinance on Monday evening, but no decision was made.

The Hammond City Council is planning to meet on July 20 to continue the discussion over the proposed plan.