Businesses, community react to uptick in violence around Downtown Mall

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - People are looking for answers after several people were shot on the Downtown Mall over the weekend, leaving one person dead and two injured.

The Charlottesville Police Department says officers were called out to the scene along West Main Street around 1 a.m. Sunday, October 24. Two men had gotten into a fight inside a bar, where shots were fired. More shots were then fired outside. One victim, later identified as Devonn J. Wilson, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was later pronounced deceased at that UVA Medical Center. Two bystanders were struck by the gunfire and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Both women are in stable condition and recovering.

CPD believes this is an isolated incident and not connected with previous shootings, such as the one near the Omni Hotel last weekend.

“I think there is a frustration or a desire to do more, to make people feel safer when they’re coming downtown, whether that’s locals or tourist or the businesses themselves,” Friends of Charlottesville Downtown Executive Director Greer Achenbach said Monday, Oct. 24.

Achenbach says some businesses are joining forces.

“A couple ideas I have heard from them are things like internal panic buttons, phone trees for additional support amongst the businesses, and redoing their schedules so that none of their staff is working alone,” she said.

In a statement to NBC29 Elizabeth Cromwell, President & CEO of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, stated: “While businesses understand that some information cannot be shared during criminal investigations, they are looking for accurate, timely facts from official sources that will enable them to make real-time decisions regarding the safety of staff and customers. They want to improve the flow of information to business stakeholders during and in the aftermath of incidents rather than relying on rumors on social media. Businesses stand willing to assist and are ready to meet with city leadership to discuss the current situation.”

On the community side, the B.U.C.K Squad is trying to reduce violence before it happens.

“We need resources in these communities to get these kids’ minds healed from what they’re going through,” Bryan Page, B.U.C.K Squad, said. “We understand that with the work that we’re doing that there’s real gang problem in this town. We’ve been trying to get to the bottom of it going on 18 months.”

“Since my time on the School Board, I realized that gangs are part of our community, and one way to combat gangs is to have opportunities, to have options for young people,” Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade said.

Wade says the trend in shootings in Charlottesville is disturbing, and City Council is working to address it.

“What we’re trying to do as a city is to let the public first know that the public safety is our number one concern,” he said.

NBC29 pushed on getting more details on the recent shooting: “I really can’t address that at this point. It’s just I don’t want to interfere with anything down the line, but other than say that, that we understand that this is a critical matter in the city and that that we’re doing everything we can to address it,” Wade said.

“This is like a powder keg has been lifted now, so now our work is more important than ever since there have been so many lately,” Herb Dickerson with the B.U.C.K Squad said.

“Something has to be done. We can’t just keep talking about this. There had to be someone with feet on ground to do something about it,” Page said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact Detective Sgt. Ron Stayments at (434) 970-3939 or Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (434) 977-4000.

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