Liquor store ordered closed

Site of drug deals, killing violated city nuisance law

August 16, 2008|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,Sun reporter

The North Avenue liquor store where a man was fatally shot last month and that police say is a hub for drug dealers was ordered yesterday to close by Baltimore police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

Linden Bar and Liquors was found to be in violation of the city's public nuisance law because of criminal activity in and around the store and must close at 5 p.m. Monday and remain closed for one year, police spokesman Sterling Clifford said. It's the first time in 15 years that the city has made use of its nuisance law, which was recently altered to eliminate loopholes that made it difficult to enforce.

"The owner has completely lost control of the inside of his establishment, and the police can't patrol the inside of the store," said City Councilman William H. Cole IV, who represents the area. At a hearing Wednesday, police showed what they said was video footage of Omar Phillips, 35, being fatally shot in the head while waiting in line at the store July 20. They enumerated nine acts of violence and drug activity that had taken place at the store and played a video of what they described as drug dealing taking place there.

Chang K. Yim, the store's owner, said that he plans to appeal the commissioner's decision and that the store is his family's sole source of income. He said that he increased security at the store after the shooting.

"I'm putting all my efforts into not letting [drug dealers] hang around, making them go in and out," he said.

Yim, who serves about 1,000 customers a day at his store, said that crime happens all over the city and that he should not be forced to close because of the criminal activity that happened in his store.

But Cole said that Yim had ignored for months police recommendations to secure his store. More than 300 residents signed a petition in the spring asking the city liquor board not to renew the store's license.

Closing the store will make the neighborhood safer because drug dealers will no longer be able to congregate there, Cole said.

"With those doors locked, they don't have a place to hide anymore," he said.

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