Sneaker violence: Killing for shoes

It’s pandemonium: crowds sliding under gates, sprinting to stores, sometimes waiting months for a pair of shoes. Sometimes, they’re willing to kill for those shoes.

It’s just life. It’s urban. That’s what we like,” Dayton father Charles Dunson said. “It’s dangerous. I won’t even buy a pair of Jordan’s for my kids, because I’m scared.”

Crimes involving shoes are happening all across the country. A customer killed a man in Atlanta when police say he was trying to rob people in line for the newest Nike’s. Months later, a man selling shoes on Craig’s List shot and killed a teen who police say tried to rob him.

In Miami Township, a shoe box sat near the spot where a 16-year-old died at the Dayton Mall last December. Police said when Jawaad Jabbar did not get the newest shoe release, he pulled a gun on a man who did. That man had a gun too, but he will not face charges for shooting the teen who tried to rob him.

In Dayton, surveillance video shows criminals stealing shoes off store mannequins and raiding shelves. Shoe Warehouse owner Chris Burns now locks his Harrison Twp. store every day to cut down on thefts. Customers have to knock to get in.

“They’ll act like they’re trying on a pair of shoes and just walk out of the store,” Burns said.

Experts say the “fan mentality” of shoe releases is likely to continue as long as manufacturers keep making money.

“This notion that someone taking shoes is ‘silly’ doesn’t consider what the value of that [set of shoes] might be and what that object represents,” University of Dayton Director of Criminal Justice Studies Program Art Jipson said. “We teach our children to not only want to be successful, but to display that success.” He says shoes equate status.

Rhonda Gullette has been living with the pain of a ‘shoe crime’ for decades. Her 18-year-old sister Danita Gullette, was murdered by the so-called Thrill Killers in 1992 when they spotted her shoes while she was making a call at a pay phone. The shooter Marvallous Keene, was executed in 2009, and his three accomplices will spend life in prison.

“She had nothing else of value on her but those gym shoes. Everybody wants something of value, but the problem is we have lost the value of a life,” Gullette said.


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