MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Express Deli and Grocery on Jefferson near Cleveland was closed by the Shelby County District Attorney's Office on Thursday, after police labeled it a hotbed for crime. It's just down the street from two churches and a school.
Police were called to the store about 70 times between June 2016 and September 2018. In that span, 29 people were arrested for things like drug dealing, prostitution and assault.
"That has nothing to do with me," owner Mohamad Suhail said.
He said all the illegal activity happens outside the store, not inside. He said he called police about it but eventually gave up. He said his calls never lead to any arrests.
"I'm just wasting police time," Suhail said. "Every time I call, they find nothing with these people. They search people. They search me, too. They bring dog inside my store. I ain't got nothing. I ain't got no problem."
Joyce Davis lives in the area. She said Suhail is telling the truth.
"He's a good guy," she said.
Frequent customer Wayne Brown backs him up too.
"He ain't selling no drugs. He work and do everything he can do," Brown said. "There ain't nothing (illegal happening) in the store."
The DA's office said Suhail might be able to reopen under certain guidelines. He'd be willing to do that. He can't afford to be closed.
"My living. My living. Where am I gonna go? Be homeless?" he said. "Five kids. I don't even have one month's rent in my pocket."
Suhail is due in court next week.