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Site of deadly shootings declared a nuisance, but can remain open for now

After three murders in two months, Macon-Bibb hoped to shut Friends Food Mart on Houston Avenue down.

MACON, Ga. — A Bibb County Superior Court Judge declared Friends Food Mart a "nuisance," but he's allowing it to reopen for now.

Macon-Bibb County got a restraining order to close the store at 3350 Houston Avenue on June 8th, after two men were shot and killed there. It was the second deadly shooting in about a month.

In an order released on Friday, Judge Bryant Culpepper ruled that the county proved that "Friend's Food Mart is a Public Nuisance." He specifically pointed to an outside illegal drug market in the parking lot, where evidence showed five people were shot, including three fatally, just this year. 

Despite that finding, the judge ruled that the owners should get the chance to address the problems and work with law enforcement and the county to keep the business open.

Even though the County couldn't permanently close the store, Mayor Lester Miller says he's pleased with the findings. 

Mayor Miller added, “I think the courts have made it very clear that this type of activity going on at that business is not going to be tolerated any longer. This is their one chance to get it right, otherwise, they will no longer be in business."

Those restrictions include that the owners must secure the inside and outside of their property and prevent loitering. 

The store is also restricted to operating only between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. each day and can no longer stay open 24 hours.

The store's owners also must post signs saying, "NO LOITERING" and signs stating that the property is under video surveillance by the property and law enforcement. 

If the owners sell or lease off the store, the transaction cannot be completed until the new owners agree to be bound by the court order.  

Mayor Miller says they don't plan to stop with Friends Food Mart.

“We are presently looking at other potential nuisance sites as well as ones we have already filed against some of the hotels. This is something that we believe is contributing greatly to the crime in these areas, and the data supports it," Miller said. "At the same time, we believe that the overall plan and the resources we have at the sheriff’s department with short staffing will be better served by having fewer calls that we have at these places."

Miller added the judge's order works with the recent ordinance passed that prevents food marts like this one from opening between 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The judge noted in his ruling for Friends Food Mart that even if the new restrictions on operating hours for Food Marts change or gets struck down, Friends Food Mart's hours will remain restricted to those noted in the order.


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