The Chevron station on Riverside Drive has added security in the months since a clerk was fatally shot there during an armed robbery this past summer.
An off-duty police officer keeps watch over the store at night, and the store has ordered bullet-proof glass for the front counter, manager Raj Patel said.
Aside from the extra security, little appears to have changed at the station, located at 1257 Riverside. Cars pull up periodically and customers pump gas. A group of men bought lottery tickets at the front counter Friday morning.
Dipak “Danny” Patel, the clerk killed in the Aug. 30 robbery, was one of 18 people killed in Macon in 2009. Nineteen people were killed in 2008.
Four people were killed in Bibb County last year. Deputies investigated one homicide in 2008.
All told, an altercation of some sort was the motive in six of the 2009 deaths, and four of them were related to armed robberies. Two deaths stemmed from domestic violence, and burglaries were involved in two others. Authorities have not pinpointed motives in the other cases.
About half of the people were killed by people they knew.
Twelve of the people killed were shot, three were stabbed and seven were killed with their attackers’ bare hands.
All the Bibb County homicides have been cleared by arrest, said Bibb County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Smallwood. Arrests have been made in all but two of the Macon cases.
Detectives have identified a person of interest in the May 8 shooting death of Charlie Carter, 36, on Sanford Avenue, Capt. Robert Grabowski said.
“We’re following up on leads from CrimeStoppers,” he said.
Detectives also are gathering information from people who live in the neighborhood where 23-year-old Crystal Morgan was found dead July 29.
Morgan was found dead in the woods near a path off Pio Nono Avenue across from Bells Terrace. An autopsy determined that she had been strangled.
Police have been tracking Morgan’s activities in the day that preceded her death.
Grabowski said the department’s rate of solving homicides in 2009 was above the national average. Macon’s average is 88 percent, while the national rate runs about 63 percent.
Police attribute the solved cases to a number of factors.
More people are calling in tips to Macon Regional CrimeStoppers, and investigators are “going outside the box.
“They’re looking at it from every angle possible,” Grabowski said.
Maj. Charles Stone said the amount of information sharing among investigative units also has increased. For example, officers assigned to the gang unit have assisted other investigators with intelligence they’ve gathered.
Also, the detectives assigned to investigate homicides has remained stable for the past year to 18 months, meaning that there have been fewer transfers of cases from one detective to another, Stone said.
When cases are transferred to a new detective, time can be lost to the learning curve as the new investigator becomes familiar with the case, he said.
“We’ve been fortunate to keep that core group,” Stone said.
It’s also helpful for the community to associate a detective with their job, said Lt. Carl Fletcher.
“People call and ask for who they recognize,” he said. “(Detectives) develop a trust with the people in the community.”
Anyone with information about an unsolved homicide or any crime is asked to call the police at 751-7500 or Macon Regional CrimeStoppers at (877) 68-CRIME.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.