MONROE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Monroe Police have begun to encounter an evolution in loitering situations at popular local hangout spots, with their overnight resources stretched thin in service to other areas of the city.

The trouble has been linked to the long use of the Aldi parking lot on Roosevelt Boulevard, which is connected to a Cook Out parking lot.

Police investigators have said high school and college teenagers have used this spot to hang out with one another.

However, they’ve begun encountering crowds that reach 75 to 100 people at a time. The gatherings, according to authorities, have created tense moments.

Monroe Police Lt. Steve Morton said there had been a rift between people hanging out at the Monroe Cook Out location and the Indian Trail Cook Out location.

This reached a breaking point on May 23, 2023.

“There is a rift, and for whatever reason, I guess the other night, it just escalated,” Morton said. “This has been going on for a while, but it’s just progressively gotten worse.”

Three fist fights reportedly broke out among the groups in the Aldi parking lot, which resulted in a 19-year-old being stabbed in the lower half of his body.

“He was actually engaged in a fight, and someone walked up behind him and stabbed him,” Morton said.

He is expected to recover and survive.

Three days before the stabbing, Monroe police were called to a group who had gathered for a memorial for a friend who had passed away.

The memorial included the burning out of tires, which did $10,000 worth of damage to the Aldi parking lot.

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On Saturday, Monroe Police posted on its Facebook page:

“Due to recent events, Monroe Police Department would like to inform the public that the Aldi parking lot is not a place to hang out after business hours.

Aldi has posted no loitering/no trespassing signs in the parking lot. Officers will be enforcing these and making criminal charges accordingly.

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The Monroe Police Department has limited resources, which are only overnight. There are six to eight officers assigned to patrol, with two sergeants and a lieutenant.

“When you have 75 to 100 people fighting, you can’t just send one officer,” Morton explained.

The impact only increases if there are arrests or injuries.

A single booking of an individual can pull an officer from the streets for more than an hour. If a person is taken to the hospital, that can remove an officer from the streets for several hours to an entire shift.

“You’ll basically have to send everybody that’s working to that one scene, so that’s away everybody whose working other areas of the city, and of course, we always have something going on,” Morton said. “You’re taking away an officer from the east side of Monroe and bringing them all the way to the west side of Monroe.”