A tale of two Springfields: Neighbors work to fend off crime

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of Jacksonville’s most historic and treasured neighborhoods is in the news for the wrong reasons.

Springfield, situated just north of downtown, is home to beautiful architecture and culture. But this week, it’s been the scene of two shootings and a drug bust.

The strip along Main Street has new restaurants and stores, breweries and coffee shops. A few blocks away are parks and beautifully renovated historic homes.

Neighbors love it. But they’re upset that crime is bleeding over to a place they work so hard to protect.

It’s a tale of two Springfields: one a budding neighborhood complete with music, art, new restaurants and renovated homes, while the second is wall-papered with crime tape and marred by gunfire.

“I counted nine gunshots, then another one, then three more,” a neighbor said about Thursday’s shooting on East 8th Street and Hubbard.

Another mother said she and her son took cover inside the Red Sea Food Mart, where they had to duck behind an arcade game for safety.

Thursday’s shooting, which unfolded about 3:25 p.m. that day, left TaDarrius Wilcox dead, according to his friends. Police are now looking for a white Dodge sedan with black rims in connection with his killing.

The day before, an unidentified man was wounded when gunfire erupted on East 8th and Liberty streets. The shooting victim in that case is expected to recover from his injuries.

No word yet if the two incidents are related.

In between the two crime scenes sits the Eastside office for Cure Violence, an anti-shooting program brought in by city officials in the past year to help them wrap their arms around the city’s violent crime problem.

Earlier Wednesday, News4Jax witnessed an undercover narcotics bust nearby at the Xpress Mart near East 8th and Liberty streets. Two men were arrested on suspicion of selling cocaine.

Bruce Jackson, who’s known as the “Uniform Man,” has run his business in Springfield for 15 years. Despite the occasional crime, he’s seen the up-and-coming neighborhood undergo a renaissance of sorts.

“Every building in the next block is now occupied,” Jackson said. “It was only 10-percent capacity at one time. That is progress.”

Residents aren’t blind to the issues facing their community, which seem to crop up more often than not on the fringes of their neighborhood.

“It’s unfortunate and we just need to continue to work to improve it,” said Tim Hope, president of the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council, better known as SPAR.

Hope leads the area’s Sheriff’s Advisory Council, working with police and politicians to keep violence at bay.

“Ironically enough, historic Springfield, the one square mile that we’re standing in right now, has some of the lowest crime in Duval County,” Hope said.

He hopes the future is filled with more celebrations and fewer crime scenes.

About the Author: