You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Ypsilanti targets crime near Brandy's Liquor Shop as owner says his store isn't a problem

By Tom Perkins


Brandy's Liquor Source

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti's midtown residents are demanding the city close down a party store that they said is at the center of crime issues in their neighborhood, but the owner of Brandy's Liquor Shop says his operation isn’t the problem.

Residents called on city council to take action Tuesday night after a burst of semi-automatic gunfire took place a day earlier outside the store on West Michigan Avenue at South Summit.

They say the store and several neighboring vacant houses on Summit have been at the center of problems that include regular and open drug dealing, fights, shootings and prostitution.

City attorneys are preparing to ask a Washtenaw Circuit Court judge to declare the property a public nuisance and council approved a resolution to ask the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to revoke the store's liquor license.

Yet Brian Hanna contends his store is not a problem and questioned why the Ypsilanti Police Department, which is headquartered a quarter mile to the east, can’t better control crime in the area.

He said the people committing crimes aren’t his customers and attributed some of the issues to drug addicts and others waiting to sell their plasma at the plasma donation center across Michigan Avenue.

He also said the city runs the Paradise Manor low income housing project a quarter mile to the west on Michigan Ave., and alleged its residents are causing the issues. He suggested the city close down that complex if it wants help address crime in the area.

Ultimately, Hanna said, it is not his store’s fault that there is crime in the area.

“I can’t control what happens in the streets,” he said. “If they want, I can be like Rambo and go into the street with two AK-47’s in my hands. I could probably do a better job than the police.”

He said the YPD have tried to shut him down and harassed him for calling too much, and questioned why anger is directed his direction.


An abandoned home on South Summit Street where neighbors say drug dealers work on the porch.

Tom Perkins | For

“It’s not what I can do, it’s what can the city do?” he said. “If they can’t keep a little corner that’s one block away from them safe, then what can they do?

"How is it that I’m the closest one to the police department in the city and this is going on? It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Ypsilanti Police Sgt. Troy Fulton said allegations that the police asked the store to quit calling or reporting crime were untrue.

“That’s totally false,” he said. “We never tell anybody not to call the police department, especially knowing the issues that happen up there, where things can escalate quickly. No one at the police department would ever say something like that.”

He also said the police continue to monitor the property and address issues around the store.

“All I can say is we’re doing everything we normally do legally to keep it clean and respond when people call,” he said. “It kind of speaks for itself when the neighborhood is so upset."

Jailed Ypsilanti landlord David Kircher owns several houses on Summit. Another abandoned home sits across the street. Andy Claydon lives next door to that home and across the street from Brandy’s and the other two vacant homes. He said drug deals regularly occur on the abandoned homes’ porches, prostitutes use an abandoned van on the Kircher properties and he has seen people overdose on the porches, among other issues.

On Wednesday afternoon, several teenage boys sat on one of the porches and left as an reporter approached the home. A few minutes later, after an Ypsilanti Police officer had circled the block and driven through Brandy’s parking lot, one of the boys returned and offered to sell the reporter drugs.

According to a memo from City Manager Ed Koryzno, ordinance officials visited the Kircher properties on Wednesday and issued citations for four abandoned vans on the properties, overgrown vegetation and litter in the yards.

Also on Wednesday, police arrested Brian Hanna's brother, Brandon Hanna, at Brandy’s on an outstanding Michigan State Police felony warrant for receiving and concealing stolen property. The warrant stemmed from an undercover operation and raid by the MSP and Ypsilanti Police last year.

Outside the store, steady foot traffic came from the direction of Paradise Manor and Gateway Apartments.

John Burns, who lives at Gateway, said he visits the store two or three times daily and said it’s the only place to purchase food or beverages in the area. The store has seen improvements in recent years, Burns said, and he feels safe shopping there.


Neighbors say they have caught prostitutes at work in vans on the abandoned homes' properties.

Tom Perkins | For

“They have a few problems but it’s a lot better than it was,” he said. “At one time you had 1,000 people in front of the store, but not anymore. I feel better about it.”

Chris Errons, who lives in Paradise Manor, also said the store’s proximity to his home makes it convenient to shop there. He also said the store has improved in recent years, though he said there are still problems.

“I have nowhere else to go, so I have to come here, but it’s not so bad,” he said.

Claydon also said he shops at the store and likes the convenience of having it across the street, though he is upset over what he said is a steady increase in crime outside the store.

Hanna said his immediate family has owned the store for 13 years and cousins owned it for 10 years prior. The store provides a service to the area, he said.

“The neighborhood has been living off this store for years,” he said. “Just because the environment changes, I don’t think the store I invested my life saving into should be shut down because the city doesn’t know how to control crime.”

The city previously tried to get the building declared a public nuisance and the two parties went to court in 2008. That resulted in a judge’s order for Brandy's owners to clean up the property and work with the community, though many of those conditions weren’t met, city officials allege.

Hanna recently bought an abandoned gas station directly across the street and plans to open a restaurant there. He insisted Brandy’s isn’t going anywhere.

“They can try (to close the store), but they’re not going to succeed,” he said. “They are going to waste their time and their money. They think they can get away with closing the store, but that’s not going to solve the problems here.”



Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 11:47 p.m.

I lived in that house from 1987 until 1994. It is Kircher's personal home. He lived on the main floor and I lived on the second floor with my wife, then after divorced, with a roommate. I used to frequent that st ore, but over 17 years ago.... (I remember one guy shot himself in his own foot in the store. It is weird seeing this in the news, but I guess it was a part of my life. I haven't seen or spoken to Dave since probably 1997. I was an ok neighborhood except for around the corner an Ypsilanti policeman murdered a resident in his own home. Around 1990?

Andrew Claydon

Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

The last crack down happened a few years back when Brandy's parking lot had twice as many police calls than all of the rest of the city combined. That's just one corner of the entire city people! With pressure from the city, the owners met with the neighbors and police and agreed to monitor and record the parking lot with security cameras. This really quieted down the activity. Was there still issues? Yes, but the security camera tapes caught it all. There was no crack down over shootings last year because the store actually worked with the police to catch them. As soon as the city stops riding them, they get lazy and slip back into their old looking the other way. No one is asking for Rambo, just to honor the agreement to run security cameras. Yes, without them more people come to the store, many in cars, because they know it's a safe place to do illegal business in the parking lot. Today there are people out there with semi-automatic guns, willing to shoot with no regard for who they might kill, because Brandy's decided to stop using their cameras.


Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 12:33 a.m.

Really, can you imagine Hanna, or any unarmed person trying to break up the gang in front of his store?


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

Here's the problem. Closing down Brandy's isn't going to solve the problem. I mean, you have empty homes/lots being used for prostitution and drug dealing. So forcing the store to close will solve what? Gee, it will be ANOTHER empty building in a high traffic area. My guess is, crime issues would increase. I'm all for the store owner to take matters into his own hands. Fire a few shots. You take out a few thugs and the world would be a better place. Clearly the city in general doesn't want to handle the situation APPROPRIATELY but having more officers making their presence known (and by this I mean actually be out there, patrolling, not just showing up when a call comes in). And what if the owner of Brandy's wants to take the law into his own hands? I bet he could clear out a lot of the rubbish there. But then nobody would support him, even those who want the area cleaned up. He has every right to protect himself and his business. As for Officer Fulton's remarks: My husband and I have called the city police four times since buying our property 18 months ago due to issues and their response is always "We'll see about getting out there." and guess what.. they did only once. So it wouldn't surprise me if what the owner of the store says is true. And you know what.. that's why we have FOIA if need be.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

The store owner is the one being hurt the most by all of this. He can't control the neighborhood and what goes on in it. This is why Detroit has no grocery stores, shoplifting is out of control as is crime. This is a police issue and if the police can't or won't crack down on the crime in the area this store will be gone. The police have to decide if revenue from road patrols is more important than crime; that is supposed to be their focus but if they don't write tickets then they have to lay off officers for lack of revenue.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

We have raised two wonderful children in the area. The neighborhood is truly marvelous. I'm not afraid to let my children play with other neighborhood kids. My oldest son says his favorite thing to do is throw rocks at people's windows. I don't know what that means, but I assume he's talking about baseball or something.

Andrew Claydon

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

The Kircher properties are not abandoned, they are just vacant. I'm told the taxes are even paid up. The vans are his property too and, in jail or not, he has a right to store them on his own property. If a house window gets broken, it's easy to board up, but once a van window is broken, card board and tape isn't gonna do the trick. There is a caretaker for the houses who mows the lawns and picks up the trash. Because he lives in Fowlerville it's just not to frequent. Kircher own a lot more properties than just the four houses mentioned.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 7:58 p.m.

I live in this neighborhood and I honestly never notice anything. Yes, lots of people are outside the store. Yes, there are a couple abandoned houses...but I never see anything that I didn't see when I lived in Depot Town. If you take out the store, just as the owner states, you would need to remove a ton of other "traffic" areas like the plasma center, apartments, and probably any bus stops in the area. As for being the only store in walking distance...basically true. If I wanted to go to grab a soda, chips...or whatever...I'd have to walk fairly far down the street. I try not to drive my car for something like that. Going in the store is generally friendly. There are a lot of people but they don't bother you. I don't even get peddled for money outside my house or there. It might have a lot to do with time of day as I have never been out later than 8 p.m. in the neighborhood. On a note about the prostitutes...I have seen the prostitues do their thing even without stores around...Michigan is just a haven for them.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

You keep cutting taxes, what do people think is going to happen?


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

Who's going to mow the lawn and remove the vans if Kircher's not around? The city needs to physically remove the vans and cut the grass-send the bill to Kircher. And since Ypsi keeps cutting its police force, who is available to patrol the streets and get rid of loiters? It is the store owner's responsibility to clear loiters from outside his store and in the lot and to keep things safe. The police and neighbors are not asking him to clear the sidewalks which are public but to keep safe what he does own. Furthermore, if the neighbors tire of Brandys, visit Dos Hermanos instead-safer, cleaner, and more food than Brandys.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

this is the sort of situation that creates community vigilante groups....unemployed people with time on their hands, lack of police presence in an obviously needy situation, then eventually someone gets hurt and there is an uprising of homegrown policing.I like Dos Hermanos better also, but its not close for the far south-west if on foot. The city can clean the properties. Portable offices in staff cars make that location just as good as any other to get paperwork done.No law, to my knowledge, says a store owner has to enforce drug and prostitution laws, and it is difficult from the counter to remove loiterers. Maybe not safe, either.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

First, getting the vehicles off the abandoned properties is such a no brainer I can hardly sympathize. Either the police or a neighbor could have solved that one long a go. next-Are the properties up to date in property taxes? If abandoned, can they be re-purposed in some legitimate way for housing? third, blood is constantly checked at the plasma center, so I doubt that is attracting anything other than poor people...who have to qualify physically. That issue is not truly related to this one. Legally people can retreat into a building, causing the building to give them security. Paperwork would need to be created, or 'probable cause' used-which could be sticky. i say remove opportunity for prostitution, improve the status of the vacant property, and have a quad car posted there instead of at the precinct for a few days...without notice, of course. Do it again, randomly. Certainly the owner should welcome such excellent protection!


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

There is a small house right next to the parking lot that, last time I saw it, was a Beal Property rental. Maybe the YPD could convert it to a substation and voila - problems in the parking lot are solved.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

I live in Normal Park and drive by that place just about every day. There are a few houses that are abandoned and/or unmaintained close to that store but they didn't use to be that way. That store, its always been a problem (at least as far back as the 80s) and it does attrack trouble. I think the store's influence has hurt that area. Kircher is history. I believe the current owner (and now arrested brother) are part of the problem. I've seen cops drive in the parking lot only to have to dealers duck in to the store rather than leave. Time after time the owners of this store have failed in their basic responsibilities and obigations to this community and time after time Ypsilanti City staff (and legal representation) has been ineffective getting a solution to the situation. I can't tell if it is poorly written ordinance language or bad legal advice/counsel or what but closing this store down just should be that hard with the drug dealing, prostitution, unmaintained property, unrepaired building, bad cigarette sales, stolen property. Something doesn't add up in this story.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

As much of a blight as this liquor store is on our neighborhood, I have to agree with the owner that it's not his liquor store/convenient mart that's the problem. His business is a legal one, and people do use his business to purchase groceries and such, since it's the only grocery store within walking distance of that part of town. Prostitution, drug addiction, crime, these are all problems that are ultimately rooted in that fact that there aren't adequate employment opportunities in the area. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that the Ypsilanti police force has had its funding cut in recent years and has inadequate manpower to cover all the problem areas of town. The drugs dealers and other criminals know this good and well.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

@Charles, So what your saying is, if there were adequate employment opportunities in the area the drug dealers, prostitutes and criminals would be jumping to fill the positions. Yea RIGHT

Sandy Castle

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

The issues you raise are real, but do not excuse the store owner from his responsibility of having the offenders removed from the property. Again, it's HIS responsibility to monitor his property and keep it safe for his patrons AND the neighborhood. If he can't do that and his property is a public nuisance then it should be closed.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

I live a 3 miles away from this store. When ever I go into this store, I am hassled by guys out front that follow you into the store. When my husband goes in and I stay in the car, men will walk up to your car and hassle you to roll down the window and talk to them. This store is revolved around the crime, because it is the cheapest place around to get alcohol. I agree that the store is needed for the low income residents in the area, but the store also needs to increase its security and work with the police on decreasing crime in the area. Nice subdivisions are 3 miles away, and there is little to no crime, but when you cross Michigan ave, you enter a whole different area, filled with crime.


Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

and you continue to go to the store?


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

Mr. Hanna may want to take a PR course. Not a great idea to suggest that the home of a large percentage of your customers be closed down.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

Sure glad I live in Ann Arbor


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

I'm glad you live in Ann Arbor.Please stay there


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

Yes, of course! There is absolutely no crime in Ann Arbor!


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

for 81COM . . . I can understand your inability to refuse the weed offer in such a threatening climate, but you show great moral strength in only using it the one time.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

I'm pretty sure when 81COM said "This was a one time trip!" he was referring to the singular trip he made to the store...


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

"All I can say is we're doing everything we normally do legally to keep it clean and respond when people call," Apparently what they "normally do" isn't enough... It seems to me that the area has more contributors to the problems than just the liquor store...those apartments have been full of problems for years. And what are store owners supposed to do about people hanging out in front of their store besides call the police. They risk their own safety and those of paying customers if they confront those hanging out outside. I'm not excusing any bad decisions on the part of the owner of the liquor store...just saying that there's not much they can do about the people that hang around. And if these people come in to legally purchase products, are they supposed to turn them away? If someone is a known drug user, do other stores turn away their money? Unfortunately that's not how things work. It's the job of the police to control what these people are doing, not the store owners.


Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

that's interesting that you trust EVERYTHING the YPD says because I have personally experienced times when they have either not responded or just not in a timely manner, that would not be very helpful if he is calling about people on his property that may not stick around to wait and hour for the police...and if he sees illegal activity going on you are suggesting he put himself in danger rather than call the police...i'm sorry but let's just agree to disagree on that...i'm not going to continue this pointless conversation, my point has been made, as has yours

Sandy Castle

Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

What is obvious here is that you're making comments about things you don't have a true understanding of, like what is required to be done in these circumstances. You are ASSUMING that the police should be providing security for this business. You don't seem to understand that this is private property so the owner must take care of the loitering himself, and if the people fail to leave he then he can call the police. According to the police (and I certainly don't doubt that what they say is true) they respond to every call they receive.


Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 3:25 a.m.

well obviously we're talking about crimes being committed...did u read the article?

Sandy Castle

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

It actually IS the owner's responsibility to take care of problems at their store. You call the police if there's a crime being committed. It's not the job of the police to provide security on their private property. If it were, then you certainly wouldn't see Walmart and the strip mall on Ellsworth paying for their own security detail.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

What a shame that that house is abandoned. From the photo, it looks like it has great potential. In the right hands, it could be a fantastic. Clean up the area and they will come! Old Blue - While it would be nice if the government could just take over abandoned houses and vehicles, there are steps that have to be followed. My experience is that usually an abandoned car can be towed within a couple of days of the citation being placed whether or not the owner ever saw the citation or not.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

David Kircher is serving five years in prison for an offense not related to the properties identified in the story. To whom did the city ordinance officers serve the "violation notices"? Do city officials think the MCC is going to release Mr. Kircher so that he can cut the grass and have these "abandoned vehicles" towed? To whom are these abandoned vehicles titled/registered? The city bureaucrats seem content to push some paper (write violation notices to people who won't ever see them) and then contend that they have done their jobs. With this type of attitude, the City of Ypsilanti has a tacit "EFM Wanted" sign posted for all to see. [EFM = Emergency Financial Manager]


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

"John Burns, who lives Gateway, said he visits the store two or three times daily and said it's the only place to purchase food or beverages in the area." This is not accurate. It maybe the only store within walking distance (two blocks), but definitely not the "area". There's Dos Hermanos a few blocks more towards downtown and that shopping center at Hewitt and Ellsworth less than a mile in the other direction. There's a wal-mart there. And buses go all through there.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

Could be wrong, but I figured he meant within walking distance.

Steve Pepple

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Several grammatical errors in the story have been corrected.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Addicts donating plasma is not a pleasant thought. This is probably why you shouldn't get paid for donation.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

I have been a regular plasma donor for two years, so I feel qualifed to respond to your comment: 1) every plasma donor undergoes an annual physical; 2) every week [twice a week if you donate the maximum number of times weekly], we undergo a mini physical: blood pressure, temperature, arm/vein check, weight; 3) every plasma donation is checked at a lab prior to being sent to hospitals for usage; 4) our blood is drawn monthly and sent to a lab for testing; if anything 'unusual' is found, you're banned from ever donating again. Period. In summary, this is a very safe procedure, and you can be sure that plasma donors are not drug users.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

I made the mistake of going into this store only once. In the short time it took me to buy a pop, I watched the clerk sell a SINGLE not a pack of cigaretts (it was not a cigar) and when I got to the parking lot I was asked if I needed any weed by another guy who I also saw speaking with the same clerk when I walked in. This was a one time trip!


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

They're called 'loosies.'


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

Did you take the time to inform the police about either? I'm guessing not, as most posters seem content to point out how the police are not helping. My experience with the Ypsi police is extremely positive and I know they will respond to complaints. You can ask to be anonymous and they will honor that.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Selling single cigarettes (and stolen property), along with building code violations, got the store got shut down for a short time last fall. The store has also been accused of breaking apart cigarette packs and selling the cigarettes as loosies in the past. In 2009, the city declared the store a nuisance because it registered twice as many police calls as any other business in the city. While the business was shut down last fall, the area was very quiet. For the owner to boldly proclaim that his business isn't the problem is ludicrous. The business is clearly the problem, and if anything, the City should step up enforcement against this nuisance.

Winter Wonderland

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

Dear Editor, 1. The article is mistagged as "Summer Concert Series." 2. The caption on the photo of the house has an apostrophe where it doesn't belong. 3. The comma should not be in the statement "Yet Brian Hanna, contends his store..." 4. The sentence that starts with, "John Burns, who lives Gateway, said he visits the store..." is missing the word "at." Thank you!


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

There's no money is news anymore.