JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There's a neighborhood crime alert in Riverside and Avondale, where locals are sounding the alarm about a number of recent violent crimes to hit the adjacent areas on Jacksonville's Westside.
On Tuesday night, police said, a man was stabbed in the head during an attempted robbery outside a Riverside food store at King and Post streets. The next night, a couple was robbed at gunpoint outside a popular Avondale restaurant on St. Johns Avenue
A manager of The Brick Restaurant, Dania Fadeley, said she saw four men driving in a back alley behind the restaurant Wednesday night, and a few minutes later, the couple was robbed at gunpoint.
Fadeley was also robbed at gunpoint in October while leaving work. She told News4Jax that all those feelings from the incident came flooding back after Wednesday evening's robbery.
"There's definitely a problem," Fadeley said Thursday. "They're seeing our neighborhood as a bunch of soft targets, people who may or may not be walking around with cash in their pockets and not paying attention."
In the two historic neighborhoods, which are often associated as one area, locals said that cases like these are becoming all too common in the area, where affluence is common and where many shop and dine.
"Any place I go, whether it's my neighborhood or out of my neighborhood -- head on a swivel," Fadeley said.
Jacksonville City Councilman Jim Love, who represents the district that includes Riverside and Avondale, said they've recently put in more lighting and "more police officers are coming, they just haven't gone through full training yet."
Some who live and work in Riverside and Avondale want the additional officers now, pointing to the stabbing Tuesday outside a mini-mart next to popular bars and restaurants along King Street.
"I think a lot more employers around here need to allow their employees to carry," said Don Goense, the owner of The Riverside Social Club. "I know, if you go into my studio, there's cameras everywhere and everybody's armed."
That's the fix for the owner of the tattoo and piercing studio on King Street.
"It’s become more common to see transient activity, to become more disgruntled when someone is not helping them," Goense said. "It used to be, 'Hey, can I have a buck? Not a big deal if you don’t have it.' Now, 'Can I have a buck?' and if you don’t have it, it’s like they get angry with you."
But not everyone feels this way. Resident Stephanie Stuckey said she's not afraid to go out and push her baby in a stroller through Riverside.
"I feel like it's pretty safe," Stuckey said. "Anytime when there's lot of pedestrians and foot traffic, I feel like more crimes end up happening."
As far as getting new officers, Love said, most of the new officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office were approved in September. He said it takes about a year to get them fully trained and out on the streets.