Birmingham sues Third Avenue West businesses for being ‘a springboard for criminal activity’

The city of Birmingham is suing the owners and operators of the Shell station on Third Avenue West and an adjacent business after a weekend shooting in the parking lot left one man dead and six others injured.

More than 150 bullets were fired in the pre-dawn incident on Sunday.

Prosecutor Nicole King filed the complaint against the owners of 3rd Avenue Ventures, LLC and Express Mart of AL, LLC for Shell and Boston Fish Supreme, which is next door to Shell.

A city news release calls the properties a “launch pad for criminal activity,” including drug activity and violence.

Efforts to get comment from those companies were not immediately successful late Monday.

In the past year alone, city officials say, Birmingham police have responded to the area for theft, kidnapping, assault, drugs, dangerous driving in the show and more.

In addition to Sunday morning’s fatal shooting, which police described as chaotic, another young man — Davion Hickley — was killed on April 25, 2022, in a similar shooting at the same location, also with more than 100 of shots fired.

And in one of the most horrific cases, Genise Carter, 43, was beaten and kidnapped from Shell on Jan. 25 in front of store employees and several witnesses in the gas station parking lot, but no one, she previously testified the police. court, stopped the attack.

Only one person called 911, and the police arrived but found nothing.

Carter’s body was later found on a dead end street, naked except for a pair of socks. She had been shot in the head.

Two men have been charged with murder.

The city says more than 50 calls have been received by Birmingham police about the properties in the past month.

The news release mentions Carter’s kidnapping and possible murder, as well as Sunday’s pre-dawn shooting that left 24-year-old David Isaiah Westbrook dead and six others between the ages of 19 and 26 wounded.

The complaint states that “neighboring residents are at grave risk of immediate and irreparable harm.”

“We have instructed the city attorney to take action to address the public safety concerns at this location,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin.

“Our small businesses are the backbone of our city, but when they don’t make a basic commitment to protect their premises, they put the well-being of their businesses and the public at risk.”

“Local business owners need to be held accountable for activity on their property, especially properties that have been constant sites of illegal disturbances,” the mayor said.

In the court filing, an affidavit from Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr states that “the properties have been the focus of numerous shootings, altercations and other criminal attacks.”

Carr’s affidavit also states that the property owners appear “unwilling to take the necessary steps to stop criminal activity on the premises.”

Police Chief Scott Thurmond held a press conference earlier Monday to address the weekend shooting.

The Shell station is a popular weekend hangout and has long been a trouble spot, Thurmond said. A YouTube video from a different weekend shows scores of people gathered in the parking lot, listening to music and dropping their guns.

Thurmond said Monday that detectives reviewed video surveillance footage from there during Sunday’s shooting and showed multiple people with guns firing.

“A review of the video surveillance showed that numerous people were shooting randomly as if they were just shooting guns. Most didn’t know who or what they were shooting at, which led to the victims being shot,” Thurmond said.

“We’ve seen that there before, unfortunately,” he said. “We have people just shooting indiscriminately.”

“I don’t know who they’re shooting at, what they’re shooting at, they’re just shooting their guns,” the chief said. “That causes a great danger to the people who are there, which led to the shooting of these people. They just shoot rounds all over the place.”

“That was, ‘I just heard gunshots and I have my gun, so I’m going to shoot so I can shoot for bragging rights,'” Thurmond said.

The city’s filing asks the court to declare the properties a public nuisance and require the properties to take necessary steps to eliminate the criminal activity. The complaint asks the court to allow the city to demolish the properties if the defendants do not comply.

In the spring of 2020, King created the Office of the City Attorney’s Drug and Nuisance Abatement Team, also known as DNAT, which works through the courts to hold landowners accountable for keeping properties clean and to get rid of the crimes and disaster associated with unpleasant problems. .

More than 120 properties received requests for corrective actions. DNAT continues to investigate other properties.

According to the press release, DNAT works closely with the Birmingham Police Department to identify areas where property owners are not taking care of properties or providing adequate security.

Property problems related to drugs and nuisances can be reported by email to [email protected] or residents can call the Internal Drug Abatement and Warden Team at 205-254-2369 during normal business hours.

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