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Violence breaks out at local gas pumps



Published: Wed, September 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



As some stations ran out of gas, officials asked area residents not to engage in panic-buying.

VINDICATOR STAFF REPORT

Fistfights broke out at gas pumps Tuesday night as people flocked to area gas stations out of fear of increased prices.

"People have been very hostile," said a worker who didn't want to be named at Sheetz on Salt Springs Road in Weathersfield Township.

That was one of several stations where workers reported that drivers fought with one another as they jockeyed for places at the pumps.

Many stations throughout the Mahoning and Shenango valleys had lines of cars 100 yards or more Tuesday evening. Police were directing traffic at some stations. Long lines were gone this morning, but many stations were still busy.

Violence breaks out: In Austintown, a Fitzgerald Avenue man told police he was punched in the face while waiting in line for gas Tuesday night at the Shell gas station on state Route 46 near Interstate 80.

The man said another motorist approached his driver's side window and asked, "Do you know who I am?" When the Fitzgerald Avenue man said no, he was punched in the face.

The Fitzgerald Avenue man said his girlfriend began arguing with the assailant, who then kicked the passenger side door of the car. The assailant then ran into the woods behind the gas station.

At a nearby Sunoco station, two drivers fought over their place at the pump Tuesday evening, said Gary Planton, manager at the station, which is run by Certified Oil.

He said he wasn't supposed to work but he came in to direct traffic because traffic had backed up well onto Route 46. No one was at the pumps this morning after Planton was told by corporate officials to raise the price from $1.39 a gallon to $1.88 for regular.

Prices at some stations remained at $1.39 this morning, while others were 30 cents to 50 cents more.

Some stations have been so busy that they were out of gas this morning. A worker at Sheetz on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown said the station ran out of gas around 7:30 a.m. and was waiting for its daily delivery, which was running late.

At Dairy Mart on Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown, tanks ran empty this morning, but store workers were waiting for a delivery.

What's behind this: Drivers interviewed at area stations this morning said they came out because they had heard from friends or on the radio that gas prices at some stations were $4 a gallon or more.




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