Downtown residents want action against what they call ‘gathering spot’ for criminals

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS – People who live along Washington Avenue in Downtown St. Louis want the city to act against a Shell gas station on N. Tucker Boulevard, right off Washington.

Matt O’Leary can see it from where he lives. He’s watched it for decades.

“It’s an easy place to come meet. You can use the parking lot to the north of it to come hang out and come party or do burnouts,” he said. “It’s just become one of the landmarks of what we call the ‘cruising ecosystem’ down here.”

Earlier this week, St. Louis police seized drugs and guns and arrested people causing problems downtown. O’Leary says police won’t be able to keep up unless the city stops the gathering places.

St. Louis Alderman Jack Coatar agrees.

“We need to start revoking business licenses, boarding up some of these businesses that are contributing to the bad behavior downtown, and I’d say at the top of the list is the Shell station on Tucker,” he said.

Coatar says he’s going to start working with the city’s Problem Properties Unit to see why they’re not being more aggressive with court action.

“Part of that is COVID-related. Part of it is that, I think, for some of these properties, business owners who are being bad actors downtown,” he said. “We are frankly giving them too many chances. I mean, residents want to see results.”

FOX 2 requested a list of St. Louis police calls to the gas station for some context. We received a list of 479 calls for service over a 12-month period. That’s more than a call a day.

Some of the more recent calls include reports like “shots fired,” “suspicious occupants of an auto,” “cutting,” and “disturbance” after “disturbance.”

“At the end of the day, they need to either buck up and fund aggressive private security, or they need to go away,” O’Leary said.

No one at the gas station would comment to FOX 2 but the mayor’s office told us they’re in active conversations with the owners and it’s looking forward to meeting with them soon to improve the situation for the neighborhood.

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