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Man shot to death outside NE Atlanta Kroger | Crime

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Man shot to death outside NE Atlanta Kroger
Crime, News
Man shot to death outside NE Atlanta Kroger

ATLANTA (WXIA) -- Call it a cold blooded murder in the middle of the day.

Atlanta Police hope someone will recognize a black BMW and the two men who were inside of it, as seen on surveillance video outside the Kroger supermarket at 725 Ponce de Leon Avenue NE, in Atlanta.

The video shows the men, at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, breaking into a pickup truck belonging to RGWilliams Construction. The pickup was parked in the customer parking area at the side of the Kroger. Police say one of the men shot and killed the driver, a construction worker in his late 30s, when he approached them to find out what they were doing. They sped away in their BMW.

There is the perception of crime along Ponce, and there is the reality.

The unspeakable crime Monday afternoon outside that Kroger is reality enough for many who believe the "Murder Kroger," as they've called it for two decades, continues to symbolize the crime in the whole area.

On Monday, Kroger did add more security guards, patrolling inside and outside the store, just hours after the man was shot to death.

Many customers are angry.

Joel Glazer says surveillance video might help catch who did it, but he asks -- where were security guards, or police, who might have prevented it in the first place?

"I can't believe that had to happen to an innocent worker who just happened to have his truck parked there," Glazer said. "It's just a shame that we feel so unsafe buying our groceries at our local Kroger."

People have been calling this store the "Murder Kroger" since 1991, when a man shot and killed a customer, Cynthia Prioleau, just outside the entrance. Police have never solved her murder.

To this day, business owners and their customers up and down Ponce are on guard against the perception of high crime in their neighborhoods, while hoping the reality is that crime is decreasing.

"It was a little crazy, at first," said Chris Scheetz, who has helped manage Cameli's Pizza for nearly five years. He remembers another murder, not long after he started working there, near the restaurant's front door. Random crime was common. Not so much, now.

"It was a little sketchy, but then things started getting a little better around here," Scheetz said.

In fact, in that part of town, Police Zone 6, Atlanta Police are reporting fewer crimes in every category, when comparing 2013 numbers with the lower 2014 numbers.

For example:

Vehicle Larceny: 2,019 cases in 2013; 1,885 cases in 2014. Down 7%

Aggravated Assault: 175 cases in 2013; 159 cases in 2014. Down 9%

Residential Burglary: 848 cases in 2013; 651 cases in 2014. Down 23%

Homicide: 12 cases in 2013; 3 cases in 2014. Down 75%

Late last year, Kroger on Ponce embraced the new, wildly popular Beltline jogging and biking trail next to the store, and began trying to rebrand itself as the "Beltline Kroger," hoping that nickname will stick over time.

But as Customer Joel Glazer put it, one more homicide -- at that grocery store, of all places -- is not likely to make it any easier for the store to shake the "Murder Kroger" perception as quickly as managers, employees and many customers would have liked.

From Atlanta Police:

Any information on the case can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477), online www.crimestoppersatlanta.org, or by texting CSA and the tip to CRIMES (274637). Persons do not have to give their name or any identifying information to be eligible for the reward of up to $2,000 for the arrest and indictment of the suspects.

Crime, News