RaceTrac gas station near GSU shuts down due to safety reasons, CEO says

A police officer is seen Tuesday morning outside a RaceTrac gas station on Piedmont Avenue that is now closed due to safety reasons after a nearby shooting Sunday, officials said.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

A police officer is seen Tuesday morning outside a RaceTrac gas station on Piedmont Avenue that is now closed due to safety reasons after a nearby shooting Sunday, officials said.

A gas station on Piedmont Avenue that has been plagued by recent violence and shootings near Georgia State University has closed its doors.

Due to public safety and financial issues, RaceTrac officials announced Monday evening they made the decision to shut down the station at 120 Piedmont Avenue in downtown Atlanta, effective immediately.

On Sunday afternoon, 21-year-old Javare Shakir-Fulford was fatally shot near the RaceTrac, prompting GSU President M. Brian Blake to meet with gas station officials, as well as Atlanta and campus police, and discuss additional ways to bolster security in the area. Blake said the RaceTrac announced its decision shortly after that conversation.

“I am deeply saddened by the recent senseless acts of violence at and near this store,” RaceTrac CEO Natalie Morhous wrote in a statement. “As an Atlanta-based business, we did not reach this decision lightly. We know how important our stores are to the community: They are open to guests 24/7/365, they create local jobs, they generate taxes and play a critical role in the states in which they operate. However, RaceTrac can only be successful when our stores are safe for our team members and our guests.”

The now-closed RaceTrac gas station is seen Tuesday on Piedmont Avenue near Georgia State University.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

The company said it had been monitoring the safety of employees and guests at the location, where 24-year-old GSU student Joshua Igbinijesu was shot and killed in December 2022. Then in October 2023, four people were shot in the area, including two students who were injured and a 19-year-old woman, De’Asia Hart, who died.

After that shooting, Blake said the university would work with Atlanta police to find a way to make the campus more secure. An officer had been added this year to monitor the store because of the violence, and was one of the first to respond to Sunday’s shooting, officials said.

“We have made recent enhancements that added more officer monitoring and cameras, reoriented our building entrances and provided staff training, and we will assess this incident to make more impactful changes,” Blake added. “We will continue to make strides in enhancing and defining our campus and securing our spaces.”

Officers found Shakir-Fulford suffering from several gunshot wounds about 500 feet from the RaceTrac around 12:45 p.m. Sunday, but he died at the scene. No one involved in the shooting has been identified as students or staff of the university, Blake said.

Officials said the gunfire was prompted by fighting in the area between two groups. In December, a scuffle led to a shooting south of the gas station on Piedmont Avenue between John Wesley Dobbs and Auburn avenues. Police said two men were struck, and one died.

In the coming weeks, RaceTrac said it would continue to provide security and employees would be offered employment at other stores. Blake said the university would communicate with the owners of the land that occupies the RaceTrac and other businesses.

“As the store closes, it is imperative that the lot is secured, the owners take responsibility and we remain vigilant in our efforts to continue to improve the area,” Blake added. “We will be working hard to help ensure future use of that parcel is more compatible with a college campus and the experience that our students and campus community members should have.”

RaceTrac said it remained dedicated to “providing our guests and team members with a safe and welcoming environment and will continue to work with the communities we serve at our 127 RaceTrac stores throughout Georgia.”

A motive for Sunday’s shooting is unclear, police said, and no details have been released about a possible suspect.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.