JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Employees of a Jackson fast food restaurant say vagrants are terrorizing workers and employees.
According to management of the Highway 80 business, sales are being affected by the homeless who have taken up residency in the vacant hotel and steal more than food from the dumpster.
“It’s really scary for us, because we don’t know what they will do,” said the Highway 80 Popeye’s manager.
The restaurant manager, who we will call Dionne, fears for the safety of her staff and customers because of the large number of homeless she said lives next door in the abandoned Jackson Southwest Hotel.
For more than six months, vagrants have been a problem for the business.
Sunday night, a homeless man reportedly cracked the door of the business, demanding to be let inside.
Another recently pointed a gun at night at an employee.
“They asked her for a cigar,” Dionne shared. “She said she didn’t have a cigar and the guy got upset, and he pulled a gun on her and told her he was homeless and he didn’t have anything."
Workers pointed out a well worn path behind the restaurant leading up a hill to the dilapidated there story building.
Those living illegally at the hotel are accused of rummaging through the trash, begging from customers and stealing electricity and water from the restaurant.
“We had an outage one day and come to find out that they had hooked up live wires to our pole and we had the light company come out and they told us what the problem was,” said Dionne. “And actually they went up on the hill and saw how they had the breaker box and everything hooked up."
Monday, we saw a woman walking down the path across the restaurant’s parking lot to the property next door.
Popeye's management has reached out to their councilman.
Jackson police are called and make routine drive-throughs, but workers said nothing has changed.
Pearl AME Church reported in 2016 that they purchased the property to convert it into a senior living facility.
Pastor Samuel Boyd said they are in the process of developing the property.
“We have lost $1.2 million or more in everything that was taken from the building. Furniture, TVs and more have walked off,” said Pastor Boyd.
The church has spent more than $32,000 trying to secure the property and has been dealing with vandals and thieves continuing to re-enter the business.
Pastor Boyd said people have come with trailers to remove items from the building.
Church members sacrificed to purchase the property, according to the minister, and they still plan to move forward and hope to have a ground breaking in November.
“I want them to help us and either tear that building down whatever they’re going to do with it and they will go somewhere else,” Dionne added.
If you suspect someone of stealing electricity or water, contact Entergy by calling 1-800-ENTERGY(368-3749) or the City of Jackson at 311.