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'Magnet for crime': Macon-Bibb makes play to permanently close M&M Food Mart

Mayor Lester Miller says Friday's hearing is for a temporary closing. They hope to make it permanent.

MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb County hopes to get an order to close another convenience store. They call the M&M Food Mart on Montpelier Avenue a "magnet for crime."

Wednesday night, someone fired shots into a group of people from a car outside the store. Thursday, the county filed paperwork for a hearing to close the store. Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller says they've seen almost 900 emergency calls to the store since 2016.

As cars rush by on bustling Montpelier Avenue, there's another sound too: a contractor installing a new window at M&M Food Mart. A man walking out of the store says someone shot out the window Wednesday night.

"A lot of drug activity, a lot of shootings, a lot of thefts, a lot of aggravated assaults in that particular location, so we started focusing on that," Mayor Miller explained.

He says they've had an eye on the place for a while, trying to shut it down. They almost had the papers finalized Wednesday when there was another shooting at the store.

In a lawsuit they filed, the county details almost 70 crimes in or near the store, including homicides and drug sales. Mayor Miller says taking these stores to court is often the best way for the county to intervene.

"When we can contribute to public safety, these are some of the ways we can do that. By legislation and policy. So, we decided to take some legal action against this. There's a hearing set up for tomorrow," Mayor Miller said.

He says the goal isn't to just shut down stores left and right. The mayor says it's a way to hold store owners accountable.

"They have a duty to protect the patrons that come into their store. We do police that area. Sometimes, you know, owners don't need to turn a blind eye," Mayor Miller said.

He says Friday's hearing is for a temporary shutdown, but the mayor says eventually, he hopes it becomes a permanent closure.

Talwyander Singh was working at the store Thursday night. He declined to interview, but told 13WMAZ workers at the store have nothing to do with the crimes that happen there. He says all they do is show up for work and go home.

This isn't the first time Macon-Bibb has closed a store through the courts. A few months ago, they closed down Friends Food Mart on Houston Avenue after three shootings there in a month. The store has still not reopened, and the mayor says they've seen significantly fewer crimes in the area since the store closed.

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