ShareThis Page

Arnold neighbors want Stop-N-Go store gone

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 12:56 a.m.
Susan Fernandes expresses concern for her safety and others who live near the Arnold Stop-N-Go convenience store on Constitution Boulevard during the Arnold council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. The convenience store, which is near Fernandes' home, was busted for allegedly selling illicit drugs for a second time in four months. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
With the faces of Arnold residents reflected in the glass behind him, Arnold Mayor Larry Milito answers questions about the Arnold Stop-N-Go convenience store during the council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. The convenience store was busted for allegedly selling illicit drugs twice in four months. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Betty Jane Langer listens closely as Arnold Council members answer questions about the Arnold Stop-N-Go during the council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. The owners of the convenience store, which is close to where Langer resides, were busted for allegely selling synthetic marijuana for a second time in four months. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Arnold residents want the Arnold Stop-N-Go convenience store to live up to its name.

“If they would stop and go away, that would be fine,” said Susan Fernandes, whose Kenneth Avenue home is behind the Constitution Boulevard store that twice in the past four months has been raided for alleged sales of synthetic marijuana.

Fernandes and her husband, Rey, were joined by several neighbors at Tuesday's council meeting to ask city officials to find a way to shut down the business that's about a year old.

In addition to the alleged drug sales, residents said excessive littering and loitering from customers have been an ongoing problem in the neighborhood. They said customers, especially youths, have been disrespectful and threatening.

The report that guns were seized from the business added another layer of fear to their concerns.

“We're a bit perplexed and concerned that they've been raided twice and they're still open,” Susan Fernandes said.

Arnold Solicitor John Pallone and police Chief Willie Weber said the process of closing a business is lengthy and complicated.

Weber said just gathering the evidence to raid and charge the operators of the store with alleged drug sales was complex due to the relative novelty of synthetic marijuana, also called K2 and Spice.

Weber said police began making undercover buys of the alleged illicit drug last spring, but found that initial samples did not exactly match the legal description of synthetic marijuana.

They had to keep gathering samples before they had enough evidence to justify the October raid that allegedly netted 50 pounds of the drug.

Backlog at the lab

The chief said they also had difficulty finding a laboratory capable of analyzing the samples. Because the lab was inundated with other samples of alleged drugs, it also took time to get the results back.

Weber said it wasn't until the last week that police could charge store operators Seif Suleiman Shuman and his brother, Muhannad Suleiman Shuman, both of Monroeville. Police issued a warrant for a third brother, Mohammad Suleiman Shoman, who authorities believe may be out of the country.

Now that drug-related arrests have occurred on the property, Weber said police can put the owners on notice that any additional charges there could result in the forfeiture of the property.

Residents questioned why New Kensington officials were able to quickly close the Hill Top Mart on Seventh Street, which also was under investigation for alleged sales of synthetic marijuana. Weber said he believed the owner of the building forced the tenant to close the store.

“It's not a quick fix,” Weber said.

Officials said attorney Duke George owns the Arnold Stop-N-Go property.

Weber said George was cooperating with Arnold officials' request that a fence be installed along the back of the store property to help prevent customers from loitering in the alley behind the store. The Fernandeses and their neighbors said patrons have caused damage to and trespassed on Kenneth Avenue properties.

Reached by phone late Tuesday, George confirmed he was willing to work with the city on installing a fence but was unaware of any other concerns.

“Nobody has contacted me,” George said.

George couldn't say whether he would consider evicting the store's operators, at least two of whom he is representing in relation to the drug charges.

Arnold officials acknowledged the residents' frustration and asked for their patience while the legalities are handled.

“We're trying to fix what turned into an unsavory situation,” said Pallone, referencing the city's excitement a year ago when the new business opened on what had been a vacant lot.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.