Gwinnett solicitor wants to cut crime rates at extended stay hotels

Emergency lights.

Emergency lights.

The Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office wants to reduce crime rates at extended stay hotels.

“There are people who live there who have children,” said Travis Gatson, chief investigator for the solicitor’s office. “They have to have a safe place just like any other neighborhood.”

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Solicitor General Brian Whiteside sent letters this week to the corporate offices of five hotels, asking for a meeting within a month to work on solutions to “multiple criminal issues” at the hotels.

The five hotels have been the source of 300 misdemeanor cases between September 2018 and September 2019, with one hotel accounting for 99 — nearly a third of those cases.

The solicitor general’s office has requested meetings with corporate leaders from Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Red Roof Inn and Extended Stay America regarding the following hotels:

• Norcross Extended Stay, 2250 Pelican Dr., Norcross

• Motel 6, 6015 Oakbrook Pkwy., Norcross

• Horizon Inn and Suites, 6187 Dawson Blvd., Norcross

• Country Inn and Suites, 5970 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross

• Congress Hotel and Suites, 5885 Oakbrook Pkwy., Norcross

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Red Roof Inn and did not return requests for comment. A spokesman for Extended Stay America said the company does not own or operate any of the above hotels and has not yet received the solicitor’s letter.

The solicitor general’s office prosecutes misdemeanors, and Gatson said the hotels they have identified have dozens of misdemeanor cases associated with them every year.

“Criminal trespass, battery, simple assault, false name, theft,” Gatson said. “They’ve got to cease the renting to people who are going to do crimes in the area.”

Felony charges are also recorded at these locations, but those are prosecuted by the district attorney's office. At Norcross Extended Stay, a security guard was shot eight times by a guest in 2016. The shooter was sentenced to 60 years in prison. The security guard, William Hudson, Jr., lived, but sustained serious injuries and was comatose for a month.

If the hotel’s management won’t agree to discuss the problems, the solicitor’s office is examining potential “civil action remedies,” but Gatson declined to specify what those remedies might be or whether they might include shutting down a hotel.

It is not clear if the solicitor’s office has the power to shut down a hotel that is the source of crime, but it can file a public nuisance complaint. A judge would then evaluate that complaint and could take action against any business deemed a nuisance.

The goal of this effort is to be proactive in preventing crime, Gatson said.

“Solicitor General Whiteside wants to make the citizens of Gwinnett County to feel safe,” Gatson said. “We are being proactive instead of sitting back and waiting for crimes to occur.”

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