DeKalb County commissioner, community seek different approach to stop violence at gas stations

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The legal system doesn’t appear to be a deterrent to crime, something DeKalb County commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson says needs to change.

Cochran-Johnson told Channel 2′s Justin Carter this is something that keeps her awake at night — shootings and murders plaguing gas stations and convenience stores in DeKalb.

In February, a man was shot at a gas station on Redan and Panola.

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In March, a young father was shot and killed, caught in the crossfire of a shootout on Covington Highway.

Last week, a clerk was shot in the face at a gas station on Candler Road.

“What is going on?” Carter asked Cochran-Johnson.

“Let me say, you can’t legislate morality and decency,” she said.

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So what can be done? Cochran-Johnson said authorities will make criminals aware.

On Saturday, hundreds of people took a stand in a rally on Hairston Road, holding signs and demanding that the violence stop.

Lance Hammonds, chairman of the Rockbridge Coalition, was on hand and said they spearheaded a new program to get local businesses on the same page.

“Basically, it’s a program to ask the businesses to work with us. We ask them to put up the proper signage, the lighting ... inside and outside the property. The cameras, the ‘no loitering’ signs,” he said.

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So far, 15 businesses are on board.

“We’ll provide them with a sticker to let us know that they are a community certified business and that lets the community know that this business is with us... and we’re gonna support them wholeheartedly,” he said.

John Hammond works security at gas stations throughout the metro and says he carries two guns and wears a bulletproof vest everyday.

“We are in a new day and time.. We don’t have that luxury to be that relaxed at the gas pump,” Hammond said. “What I would suggest is to be conscious of your environment at all times. Pump your gas, stay off the phone.”

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