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Local News

Essington Tobacco store closed up months ago

Essington Tobacco apparently has been closed for the past three months, Joliet city officials said.

Although advertising still is visible on the storefront windows at the tobacco and vape shop at 1105 Essington Road, the inside of the store mostly was empty except for a cash register and empty display shelves.

The city’s business service department confirmed Essington Tobacco has been closed for the past three months, City Manager David Hales’ assistant Katie Smith said in an email.

The store’s number was out of service as of Friday afternoon.

In May, Ata A. Shnenah, 23, of Joliet, an employee of the store, was arrested for allegedly shooting at an orange-colored car that drove away. Witnesses said they saw Shnenah run out of the store armed with a handgun and shooting at the car.

A woman who contacted Joliet police said in a 911 call that she saw the shooter had “literally sprinted by” during the gun attack. She was at L.A. Tan nearby, and a customer witnessed the incident. She said she heard about three to four shots.

After Shnenah’s arrest, he was ordered to surrender his firearm owner’s identification card, concealed carry license and Palestinian passport. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm and reckless discharge of a firearm.

In May 2017, Essington Tobacco was one of a dozen businesses in the city that was found by police to have sold cigarettes to underage buyers.

On July 13, 2017, Shnenah was found guilty of selling tobacco to minors and was ordered to pay a $360 fine.

The store’s website said the “premier tobacco and vape shop” started in 2007 and serves Joliet, Shorewood, Crest Hill, Aurora and Naperville. The store sold cigarettes, cigars, vapes, e-juice, glass pipes and hookahs.

A Herald-News story from Sept. 1, 2000, said the store opened during the summer of that year. The store got off to a rocky start as politically motivated vandals plastered the storefront with anti-smoking literature and a note that read, “The War for Purity Has Begun!”

Ahsan Choudhary, the store owner at the time, said he discovered 47 sheets of paper glued to his store window. Each sheet listed a fact linking tobacco and smoking to cancer, lung disease and heart disease.

“It’s stupid. Do they think people are going to stop smoking because of that. It’s not illegal to sell cigarettes,” Choudhary said.

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