JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wednesday was the first night of the Downtown Jacksonville Art Walk since the mass shooting at The Landing.
Art Walk typically draws big crowds and Wednesday night was no exception, despite many still being on edge 10 days after a gunman opened fire during a video game tournament inside the Chicago Pizza at the Jacksonville Landing, killing two men.
Some said they made it a point to be at the first Art Walk since the shooting just blocks away, as a sort of protest to the violence. They said they weren't going to let it ruin the monthly tradition.
"It’s awesome to see the community come together, especially for such an event like the Art Walk, where people come here, they interact with local vendors and it’s a community engagement event," Art Walk visitor Jake Capistran said. "It’s awesome to see that people are still out here.”
Capistran, and others like him, said last week’s shooting was even more of a reason to attend the event in the core of downtown Jacksonville.
“You’re surrounded by people that love what they’re doing and they’re just trying to have a good time," said Cassy Johnston, who visited Art Walk. "So it kind of dulls it down to where you feel like, ‘You know what? I’ll be good for right now.'"
For many, the large police presence contributed to that sense of security.
“I mean, I feel safe. I feel like we’ve passed multiple cop cars. They are around at every point," Art Walk visitor Kayla Herron said. "I think they’re keeping everybody comfortable.”
Across downtown on Wednesday evening, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's presence was hard to miss. Police appeared to be taking no chances.
“I feel comfortable, free, happy, you know?" Art Walk visitor Briana Middleton said. "As long as I believe in God, I feel safe anywhere.”
A lot of people at the event pointed out that the shooting at The Landing was an isolated incident, which made them feel a bit more comfortable being at Art Walk.
“I feel 100 percent comfortable. I feel even more connected to the community, as crazy as that does sound," Capistran said. "I feel like everybody is out here because of the shooting that happened. They want to show that Jacksonville will stand up for what happened.”