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Laveen residents fed up with crime at local Circle K gas station

Posted at 10:22 PM, Aug 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-17 01:22:38-04

Community members say a Laveen gas station has been the target of hundreds of crimes within the last year. Leaders and residents say they're fed up and fear for the lives. 

“I feel like I would potentially have to fear for my life if I have to go in that gas station,” said Joel Retkowski. 

Retkowski is talking about the gas station off 51st Avenue and Baseline Road. 

“It’s been robbed a few times, and I know that one employee witnessed a murder who quit said it’s not worth losing his life over money or a pack of beer,” said Retkowski. 

What was formally a Valero until June, is now a Circle K. Retkowski says both ended plagued by constant crime. 

Back in May, a shootout that began in the parking lot ended inside the store with one person dead. 

“At some point in time the store owners and have to step up and be somewhat responsible for the security of their own sites,” said Phil Hertel. 

Hertel has called the Laveen home for 30 years. He said he has seen it go from rural farmlands to a bustling community. 

"This is a major issue," said Hertel. “The numbers show it, you drive by, and there’s police there all the time.”

According to public records, there have been more than 250 calls for cops from this location since January 2017. 

For everything from shootings and fights to shoplifting and armed robbery. 

But optics can be tricky, nearly 50 percent of the calls are for trespassing. 

“Everybody should feel safe, everybody has a right to feel safe,” said Daniel Penton. 

Penton is with the Laveen Community Council and says clearly something must be done. 

“Stuff like this will prevent other businesses from wanting to come here,” said Penton. 

Penton says with local police understaffed already; they can't afford to turn away new businesses because it's tax revenue they need to protect their streets. He says it’s now time to hold the store accountable. 

But for residents like Retkowski, the damage has already been done. 

“I not gonna risk my life to get a candy bar and nor should the employees risk their lives for the money and the beer in there as well,” said Retkowski. 

Phoenix police said they are nearly fully staffed in this particular area, short about three officers. They told ABC15 they are constantly trying to work with leaders like Penton and neighborhood watch groups to make an impact. 

ABC15 reached out to Circle K earlier in the week and on Thursday seeking comment, but have not heard back.

However, the Fry's in the same shopping center has stepped up to pay for off-duty officers to patrol the parking lot.