RICHMOND, Va. -- A bustling Monday lunchtime crowd filled Tio Pabolo’s, a Mexican restaurant just off the 17th Street Farmers Market. It was a welcome sight, reminiscent of pre-pandemic times for Mariana Noriega who has worked there six years.
Still, the commotion of running the room by herself at lunch pales in comparison to the supper rush Tio Pablo’s gets most weekends.
“Oh, there’s so many people here! It gets a little bit hectic,” Noriega said.
The restaurant sits just blocks away from two separate deadly shootings that occurred two consecutive weekends in Shockoe Bottom. Business owners, residents and workers were saddened and alarmed by the loss of life, but Noriega said spates of violence do not generally impact their customer base.
“Yeah, I feel so bad to hear that. You go out, and you don’t expect your family member to not come back,” she said. “It sucks because this is a good neighborhood. Well, it’s a nice neighborhood, a lot of people live here and come by. There’s a lot of businesses. So, it kind of affects us all in some sort of way.”
On June 20th, Richmond Police said 24-year-old Da’Vonta McLaurin was shot and killed near Crane and Broad Street, one of four shooting victims that night. The other three survived, officials said.
Then, in the early morning hours of Sunday, RPD officers heard shots fired on N 20th Street. Authorities found a man who had been shot unresponsive in the street. He was pronounced dead on the scene, officials report.
Although there is no evidence the cases are connected, police and family have said both shootings took place as large groups of people were leaving clubs in Shockoe Bottom.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers or the Richmond Police Department.
Noriega said the team at Tio Pablo make sure to take steps to look out for one another when they leave the restaurant at the end of the night.
“When we leave, we have a buddy with us, like a co-worker who leaves with us, or we all go together,” she said.
Still, those are general precautions, and Noriega said she feels safe most times of the day.
“It kind of affects us in some sort of way, but I don’t think they really, like they just continue on with their lives,” she said.
Richmond Police said they are working to provide further details on both investigations and public safety measures implemented in the wake of the shootings.