Louisana liquor store becomes focal point as crime debate rages in capital city


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A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, political leader and members of the community are calling for the permanent closure of a liquor store, which has been the site of multiple crimes in recent months, if the owners don’t address the violence. The store’s lawyer, however, says business owners should not be the ones required to confront criminals and called for the city to beef up its police department. 

“We definitely need more patrolling from the police and we’re not able to get that right now. And that’s distressing because you’re putting a lot of pressure on business owners to go out and confront these criminals on their own, which is dangerous for the community,” attorney for Vince’s Liquor Store, Sacha Tessier, told Fox News Digital in a phone interview Wednesday. 

“It’s dangerous for the business owners, and it’s not going to solve the problem in the long run.”

Her comments follow a community meeting on Tuesday where Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks said Vince’s Liquor Store should permanently shutter if it does not help stop crimes such as drug use, prostitution, and recent shootings. 


Google Maps screenshot shows exterior entrance of Vince’s Liquor Store in Baton Rouge. 
(Google Maps )

“We’re not playing. I’m not playing,” Banks said Tuesday at the meeting, according to WAFB. 

“I don’t care. Lawyer up or lawyer down. They will be closed down if something doesn’t change. I just want to make sure that’s clear,” Banks added. “Where crime has gone down in every other part of our district, it has gone up just in that block.”

The store has seen two shootings in recent months, including one in March that left a 17-year-old dead and another fatal shooting at the end of July. 

Banks told Fox News Digital in an interview that in the area of Baton Rouge where the liquor store is located, violent crimes have increased while neighboring areas have seen crime go down. 

“We want the right kind of responsible entrepreneurs that don’t just think that their job is to take care of the four walls within their building and their cash register. But also the boundaries around there, because that’s what good neighbors do,” Banks said. 

The councilwoman described the liquor store as a “mainstay” of the community that has operated for decades, but recently changed owners. She called on the owners, Alheleli Mohammed and Abdullah Mohammed, to better know their “frequent buyers” and to cut off customers who are known to act on criminal behavior. 

“You know the persons who are always in your store. You know the persons who are buying the alcohol, coming in inebriated and youre still selling them liquor. You know the persons who are prostituting and getting money so that they can buy liquor and drugs. You know your clientele. And the fact that you continue to proliferate this behavior by constantly selling them and not making them feel uncomfortable,” Banks said. 

“Some of it is what they are doing. But a lot of it is what they’re not doing,” she added. 


Tessier said the liquor store is looking into measures to help curb crime, such as hiring private security guards and keeping the area clean, but made clear they are not taking responsibility for the behavior of criminals. 

“Crime is up all over. This is not this is not a problem that is just limited to this area of town, everywhere in this city. And we have got to figure out as a city, how we’re going to fix our crime issue. Are we going to hire more police officers to start patrolling again? Are we going to across the board be expecting vigilante business owners to go out and protect their property? I mean, at what point are the city officials gonna step up and say, ‘Okay, we got to we got to do something here. We’re letting the criminals overrun the city,'” the Baton Rouge attorney said.

Louisiana’s capital saw a 46% increase in homicides in 2020 compared to 2019, at 101 homicides, according to data from the Baton Rouge Police Department. The number of homicides within city limits increased again in 2021, to about 120 homicides. 


This year, homicides have ticked down compared to recent years, with the city’s police chief last month showing a roughly 16% decrease in homicides so far this year compared to the same time period last year – recording 59 homicides as of July 27. 

As the city dealt with the increase in violent crimes in 2020 and 2021, the police department also saw an increase in job vacancies. The department reported its lowest number of employees since 2015 last year, when it tallied 113 vacancies and 577 filled positions. Officials estimated earlier this year in March that the department was short 115 employees. 

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - APRIL 17: Members of the police stand by as protestors gather outside the Louisiana State Governor's mansion during a rally against Louisiana's stay-at-home order and economic shutdown on April 17, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Governor John Bell Edwards has said Louisiana’s high rate of infections and deaths does not position the state to quickly open back up. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – APRIL 17: Members of the police stand by as protestors gather outside the Louisiana State Governor’s mansion during a rally against Louisiana’s stay-at-home order and economic shutdown on April 17, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Governor John Bell Edwards has said Louisiana’s high rate of infections and deaths does not position the state to quickly open back up. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said a recent 7% raise for officers will likely help boost recruiting efforts to fill roughly 90 open positions as of last month. 

“The more boots on the ground, the more proactive we can be. The more boots on the ground that we have, visibility helps,” Paul said in July.

Baton Rouge PD is far from alone in coping with a staffing shortage at its department. 


The Chicago Police Department reported the lowest number of employees in recent history at the end of March. The Seattle Police Department reached a 30-year staffing low this year. Washington, D.C., rolled out $20,000 bonuses to new officers to boost staffing earlier this summer. 

“We see law enforcement officers leave our profession at a rate we’ve never seen before,” National Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes said at the Faith & Blue conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. “Our profession is dependent on the best and brightest stepping up and taking this job. And because of the actions, and because of the turmoil that has happened in the last two years, we have a crisis right now in manpower.”

Some analysts have attributed the staffing shortages to recent anti-police rhetoric and the defund the police movement that swept the nation in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. 

“Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a very difficult time in American history in the last two years. America’s law enforcement has been demonized by many. It has created a rift within this country and eroded the very trust of the institution and the profession of law enforcement,” Yoes added during his remarks earlier this month. “And we’re paying for it. We’re paying for it in our communities with higher crime. And we’re also paying for it in law enforcement officers.”


Calling on businesses to shutter to curb crime has also cropped up in other areas of the country. In Atlanta, community members of the Adamsville neighborhood have protested near a Citgo gas station demanding its closure due to nearly 100 calls made to 911 in recent days. 

“It’s become a haven for crime,” Atlanta District 10 Councilwoman Andrea Boone said at a rally last week, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Homicides, robberies, prostitution, open drug sales. Enough is enough.”

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