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Published: Sunday, 6/10/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Gas-station shootings spur calls for action

2 injured in latest incident; councilman deplores trend

BY TONY COOK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Councilman Tyrone Riley says he has met with the Valero station owner about the violence. Councilman Tyrone Riley says he has met with the Valero station owner about the violence.
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The Valero gas station at Monroe Street and Auburn Avenue has turned into something of a shooting gallery in recent years.

Two men suffered gunshot wounds in the early morning hours Saturday. Just two days earlier, another man was shot in the foot during what police are calling a drive-by shooting. In all, six people have been shot at the gas station since 2009, including a homicide in April.

The bloody trend has caught the attention of city officials, including Councilman Tyrone Riley, whose district includes the gas station. He said he has spoken with the gas station's owner, Yazeed Qaimari, in an effort to find a solution.

"I'm concerned about the gathering of individuals at these gas stations," Mr. Riley said. "We are going to take a look at it and make sure this type of behavior does not continue because it's completely unacceptable."

Sgt. Joe Heffernan, spokesman for the Toledo Police Department, did not respond to calls for comment.

Central-city gas stations that are open 24 hours a day have become popular late-night gathering spots for young adults. One YouTube video shows what amounts to a large party, complete with dancing and drinking, at a local BP. But the trend has been accompanied by violence, especially at the Valero station on Monroe.

In the latest incident, Marvin Davis, 31, Erroll Brewer, 24, and Derek Rivers, 22, were getting gas at 2:50 a.m. Saturday when a gunman opened fire, striking Davis and Brewer, who were taken to Toledo Hospital, police said.

The hospital did not have information about their conditions Saturday afternoon.

Thursday at 2:30 a.m., another man was shot in the foot. Darryl Jones-Merriweather, 25, of Freeman Street was at the station talking with Eric White of Broer Avenue when a stranger drove up, yelled at Mr. White, pulled out a semiautomatic pistol, and fired a shot, striking Mr. Jones-Merriweather, police said. He was treated at Toledo Hospital.

Those two shootings came on the heels of an April 15 killing at the gas station.

Torian Tall, 25, was fatally shot in the neck at about 2:15 a.m. that day. James Sutton IV, 21, of Christie Street was arrested in Wisconsin five days later. He is being held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $500,000 bond pending his next court appearance Wednesday.

Another man, Deshawn Reese, 20, also was shot at the gas station in July, 2011, at 2:30 a.m. And in February, 2007, Charles Redmond, 27, was shot in the back during a fight at the gas station at 2:40 a.m. At that time, it was a Sunoco station. A police report indicated the shooting was gang-related.

Mr. Qaimari, the gas station's owner, did not return messages Saturday. Two clerks at the station said they couldn't discuss the shootings.

Nearby business owners and employees had mixed reactions Saturday to the trend, although they had one thing in common -- a desire to remain anonymous.

One owner attributed the violence to gang activity, while an employee of another store blamed the shootings on a lack of activities for young people. One said the intersection had earned the nickname "Wild West."

Councilman Riley dismissed a lack of city activities as a cause. "If they are happening at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, the only place I can suggest they go is home," he said.

Mr. Riley said he spoke with the gas station's owner about the problem on Thursday.

"He indicated to me he was going to take steps to prevent this kind of violence from happening again," Mr. Riley said. "I suggested to him we look at the hours and see what time they are happening. Maybe they need to close down until we can get this under control."

The owner offered to allow Toledo police to use a vacant storefront adjacent to the gas station's convenience store as a substation, Mr. Riley said. The councilman said he plans to meet with police Chief Derrick Diggs about that proposal and other possible solutions next week.

"What's taking place there -- the large gatherings of individuals -- is not going to be tolerated in light of the shootings and possession of guns," he said.

Contact Tony Cook at: tcook@theblade.com, 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @tony__cook.



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