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Mayor after spate of violence in Richmond's East End: 'There are some blind spots in our work'

Mayor after spate of violence in Richmond's East End: 'There are some blind spots in our work'
Posted at 6:17 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 18:17:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Shockoe Bottom business owners called for more action to address public safety after a deadly and violent week in the East End.

Between Monday and Sunday, four people were shot and killed in city neighborhoods east of Interstate 95 including Shockoe Bottom, Creighton Court, Ashley Oaks Apartments and Fairfield Court.

Owner of Tree's Tacos and Tips on North 18th Street, Adriana Rountree, said despite a recent string of violence, she loves doing business in Shockoe Bottom.

“Shockoe Bottom is an amazing community," Rountree said.

Not only does she work in the East End, but she also calls it home as a resident of the Fairfield neighborhood. however, she does have worries about safety due to the consistent violence she witnesses.

“In the daytime, it’s amazing. At night, it’s a different story," Rountree said.

Rountree used to sell tacos until the early morning hours, but now she closes at 10 p.m., citing safety concerns on the weekends. She said other nearby business owners have cut back their hours too for similar reasons.

“We need some more control, some more security, some more lights," she said.

On Saturday, a man was shot and killed near Main Street Station just a couple of blocks from her business. On Sunday, another man was shot and killed in Fairfield Court, just a couple of blocks from her home.

“I’ve seen a lot of stuff happening, I don’t know what it is," Rountree said.

CBS 6 asked Mayor Levar Stoney if there are specific measures in his recently unveiled gun violence prevention plan that target unique challenges facing the East End.

“There are some blind spots in our work," Mayor Stoney said.

The mayor admitted certain communities have been left behind in the city's past transformation initiatives that have produced positive results in other areas.

“We've been honest about the need to fix it through gun violence intervention and prevention at early ages," Mayor Stoney said. "The need for more officers but also the need for more opportunities as well.”

Other efforts include redeveloping public housing and memorializing the enslaved in Shockoe Bottom. However, all those measures come with hefty price tags.

“Here's the thing. If we had $500 billion all at once, we would do all those projects all at once," Mayor Stoney said, adding that change won't happen overnight.

9th District Councilman, Mike Jones, said economic development will help reduce violence among youth while supporting the city's newly announced equitable economic development plan during a press conference Monday.

"You want to stop some of the violence in this area? Put young folk to work," Jones said.

As Rountree hopes for change, she said she leans on others in the business community for support.

“We watch for each other and everything," Rountree said.

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