Leaders continue to ask for change one month after A-1 Food Store shooting

Local leaders are still asking for change one month after a shooting at a North Charleston business killed one and injured five others.
Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 9:43 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2023 at 4:04 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Local leaders are still asking for change one month after a shooting at a North Charleston business killed one and injured five others.

Officers were called to the 4100 block of Dorchester Rd. to a report of multiple people wounded on June 8. Armien Jones Jr., 19, died at the scene of the shooting, according to the Charleston County Coroner’s Office.

More than 400 calls to 911 have been made from the A-1 Food Store since 2021, according to Charleston County Dispatch. Those calls vary from trespassing and traffic stops to drug sales and assaults, records state.

Charleston County Dispatch says there have been a total of 45 calls for service at the store from June 8 to July 10.

Records show that only one of those calls was to the 911 line, with the others being placed on the administrative line or were officer initiated, which includes traffic stops or patrols.

“The activity has slowed down tremendously, and the reason why is because the threats from the community,” Racial Justice Network CEO James Johnson says. “They [A-1 Food Mart] are from what I understand, calling the police department frequently to keep the traffic of people from laundering in front of the store.”

“To me, it is 20 years too late; too many people have died in their store,” Johnson adds.

Shortly after the shooting, community advocates, local leaders and state Representatives Marvin Pendarvis and Wendell Gilliard, spoke out against gun violence and the history of crime at the store.

“I think it’s multifaceted because there are different levels of accountability that need to be achieved,” North Charleston community advocate Jonathan Thrower says. “I think closing down the store, even if it doesn’t help in totality, it sends a message that is not tolerated.”

Some have asked the city of North Charleston to declare the A-1 Food Store a public nuisance, which would potentially force the store to shut down.

Johnson says for weeks he and his organization have asked the North Charleston Police Department for the exact number of people that have died at the business but have yet to receive the numbers.

“The Racial Justice Network will bring a lawsuit against the store to close it down and revoke their license,” Johnson says. “There is no reason that A-1 still needs to be there, and we are not going to stop until we close it.”

Before legal action can be taken, Thrower says the community needs to show more desire to fight crime in North Charleston.

“We’re going to have to show more persistence than drug dealers because they’re going to come out every day, they’re going to show up, they’re going to be active, they’re going to fight for what they believe is theirs,” he says. “In order for us to be able to bring a message that will combat, we have to be just as aggressive and smart.”

Both are asking parents in the area to keep their children away from the establishment and if you see something, say something.

“I think that’s where we’re missing the point, we have to not be scared to call it out,” Thrower says. “Call it in; don’t be scared.”

“We need it gone; there is no purpose for their store.” Johnson says. “They take from the community and put nothing back in the community.”

The North Charleston Police Department has not yet responded to a request for comment.