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Local gas station owner speaks out about his business constantly being at the center of violence

Gas station on 34th & emerson.jpg
Posted at 10:05 PM, Aug 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-24 09:34:13-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The owner of a gas station that has been at the center of crime is speaking out about violence in the community.

For 15 years, Gurbreed Malhi has owned a gas station on the corner of 34th Street and Emerson Avenue.

“It was not like this at all. It started this year. I do not know what’s going on,” Malhi said.

Since Aug. 2022, IMPD told WRTV’s Amber Grigley they have had 77 calls to the gas station location.

However, 14 of those were check-ups, which means officers proactively check the property or do periodic premises checks. Sometimes, officers do not always “mark out” but may keep routine checks of a property. Seven of them are follow-up markouts. This indicates an officer or investigator marked out there for a follow-up investigation.

Malhi says he’s committed and willing to do whatever is necessary to get his businesses back to what it was when he first opened it — a safe place for the community.

“Violence is not the answer to anything. Violence should stop, and peace should prevail,” Malhi said. “To be in the center of any crime scene as a business over is a tough position to be in. No one wants incidents to happen at their property.”

Ashley Gurvitz with United Northeast Community Development Corporation says her organization has been trying to work with residents to fix the growing crime activity in the area for some time now.

“What can the city do? Their hands are tied. What can we, as residents, do? Our hands are tied. We need that collective action. We have to realize that we don’t want problems like this continuing to foster within our backyard,” Gurvitz said.

Gurvitz says they have a few suggestions for businesses in the area. The first is installing B-Link surveillance.

“Working with B-Link is definitely the number one thing we’ve seen improve other facilities throughout the city. Just west of here, 34th and Sherman, there’s been a deduction of crime with that extra surveillance,” Gurvitz said.

The second suggestion Gurvitz has is to review the business’ hours of operation.

“Of course, we’re not trying to do anything that fosters someone’s economic ability to thrive here, but if the dollar means more than the lives, we need to figure out and enforce other things,” Gurvitz said.

IMPD sent the following statement to WRTV regarding crime in the area:

IMPD is aware of the concerns by the community and residents regarding the Shell gas station near 34th and Emerson. This business has been the scene of far too many tragedies this year.

Over the past few months, IMPD North District has continued to work with the business owner about steps he can take to address the safety of customers and employees. The business has entered into a trespass agreement, allowing the law enforcement to take action if an individual is causing trouble at the property.

Recently, the owner signed up for B-link, which allows IMPD’s Incident Analysis Center livestream access if a crime takes place near them, along with recorded video evidence for investigations.

IMPD also continues marked vehicle patrols in and near the business to show IMPD’s presence and commitment to the neighborhood.

Malhi says he started the process of applying for IMPD’s B-Link program and is working to get off-duty officers to patrol his business. He says he’s willing to cover the expenses for each.

“We work with tight margins, and we don’t have big budgets to do that. But temporarily for the time being to prevent these incidents from happening, I’m trying my best to get that security,” Malhi said.

WRTV also reached out to Councilor Keith Graves of District 13 about this ongoing issue. In a statement he said:

Through concerns from community leaders and constituents, I have been made aware that the gas station on 34th and Emerson has, unfortunately, become a hotspot for crime. It will take all of us to stop gun violence, including cooperation from every local business. Business owners must recognize that they, too, are members of our community. Participation in B-Link, adding proper security, and presenting their businesses as clean places are just a few action items that can be done to ensure that their properties are not public safety threats. I also encourage residents to speak up. If you see something, say something. We all have an individual responsibility to ensure our neighborhoods are safe. I have been in many conversations with community leaders in the neighborhood, and we are committed to working together to address the violence.
Councilor Keith Graves, District 13