Community vows to fight criminal element

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A South Richmond convenience store where a customer opened fire on a robber who later died was closed Wednesday. The suspect, 30 year old James Grooms, died earlier that morning.

The community where that happened is now fighting back. Business owners and city leaders along the Jeff Davis corridor are banding together. The group held a meeting to discuss a plan of action.

The Golden Market convenience store is the latest scene of violence on the Jeff Davis corridor. A robbery led to a gun battle and now the death of the robbery suspect. After weeks of violence, business owners up and down that street are sick of the bad news. Now, they're looking forward.

The message at Wednesday's meeting is as loud as the gunshots that have destroyed any peace in this neighborhood.

"We're not going to fear any of those crooks. They should be fearful of us. We're ready. We're not going to take that," said one store owner.

Mike Shabin knows those crooks well. A man tried to rob his pawn shop a few months ago.

"He came in to rob me. He locked me in a room but I didn't stay there for long. I came out shooting," said Shabin.

That night Shabin fought back. At Wednesday's community meeting, his words are just as strong.

"We're not going to let them drive us away. We're gonna drive them away," said Shabin.

That's the exact message from police who say they need partners in the people who live and work here.

"To be engaged we have numbers. And when we have numbers we can beat anyone," said Richmond Police Chief Bryan Norwood.

With the high profile crimes of the last month the community says it has seen police snapping into action. They've been patrolling in cruisers with flashing lights and actually walking beats between 8 pm and 2 am.

Now, they'll work with business owners to establish a network among shops so they can alert each other of any potential crooks and dangers. They hope this will ultimately make this statement a reality.

"Jeff Davis belongs to the good people, not to the crooks," Shabin said.

A number of business owners also voiced concern about illegal guns on the streets. The police department says it will make an important announcement next week dealing with getting those weapons out of the community.

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