Police refer to shopping center in west Charlotte as ‘open air drug market,' nearby businesses concerned with crime

'Open Air Drug Market' in West Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Court records show police have been staking out an intersection in West Charlotte where they say a shopping center on West Boulevard nearby Remount is an “open air drug market.” After several shootings and even a homicide, businesses in the area are fearful of the continued violence.

But many of the businesses that spoke with our reporter in the area told her they were too scared of what would happen if they did an interview. But it was obvious, the violence and crime has made a big impact on the community.

“It’s an everyday thing. You can take your camera and point it out the window and see. All they do is sell drugs,” said Khaled Alhalek, who runs a store at the shopping center across the street.

He says he can look at his window and see suspicious activity nearly everyday.

“You get people passing drugs, coming and going, coming and going, that’s all they do,” he said.

So he wasn’t surprised to hear police referenced this shopping center nearby the corner of West Boulevard and Remount as an “open air drug market.”

“It’s absolutely correct, it’s 100% correct," he said when asked about the phrase.

But it’s not just drugs. There have been multiple shootings in the area and dozens of police reports over the last few months for violent crime. In August, a man was killed in broad daylight outside the store during rush hour on the busy road.

Alhalek says he thinks there is an easy solution.

“You have one cop car, or two cop cars there all the time. These people do not come back, that’s how it works," he said.

Other businesses in the area are fearful for their lives. Half a dozen business owners told me the violence was outrageous but were scared they would be targeted if they spoke publicly.

The owner of the shopping center next door said he’s been trying to clean up the area, but his help only goes so far.

“My feeling is that it’s very dangerous. Police are coming, they make me very nervous. Also, when I hear about the news of West Boulevard my heart beat through," said Koiong Su Kim.

The businesses said their first concern is the crime. but said they’ve lost business over the past few months. Many told me they’re planning to leave the area altogether.

Alhalek says police do have cameras pointing at the shopping center and have put up signs to deter loitering in the area but says it hasn’t been much help.

When our crews were at the scene, they did notice police cars stopping in nearby parking lots throughout the day.

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