JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City Councilman Reggie Gaffney is renewing his call for the Gold Rush Inn on Harts Road to be closed after a shooting there on Sunday evening.
Gaffney calls it a hot spot for violence, drugs and crime. There have been more than 800 police calls for service at the day-rate hotel this year and many of eight fatal shootings on Harts Road this year are connected to the hotel.
Police were already in the area for a disturbance call Sunday night when the man was shot outside one of the rooms.
“I go to bed praying every night that nothing happens on Harts Road at this hotel,” Gaffney said. “If we don’t close it down, we will be back in another 30 days.”
Last month, people picketed outside the hotel, carrying signs saying it’s a danger to the area.
The same words were said on Nov. 22 with people rallying for peace.
Gold Rush is known by the people who live in the area for illegal drugs, prostitution and violence.
Gold Rush is one of three hotels Gaffney says needs to close and has asked the state to get involved.
“They have reached out to the sheriff they have reached out to the city,” Gaffney said of the response by the Department of Business Professional Regulation.
News4Jax went door-to-door and called asking to speak with the managers of the three hotels on Harts Road: the Gold Rush Inn, the River City Inn and the Red Roof Inn. No one would see me on Monday and none have called me back 24 hours later.
We asked the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office about riding with officers fighting crime on Harts Road they declined, but sent this statement:
There has been some progress. Police have arrested Joshua Deon Stamper on a murder charge in connection with a March 29 death in the area.
Homicides in 2020 on Harts Road
- Jan 20: 20-year-old Reginald Boston Jr. killed and a second man wounded in a police-involved shooting during an undercover operation.
- March 18: 18-year-old man dead, and four others wounded in a mass shooting at 11500 Harts Road. One of those wounded was a 3-year-old child.
- March 29: 30-year-old Terrance Whitley found shot dead in a parking lot at 10865 Harts Road. Joshua Stamper, 31, under arrest.
- May 21: 28-year-old man fatally shot at the Gold Rush Motel at 10885 Harts Road.
- June 23: Two people killed in a shootout at the Gold Rush Motel. JSO says they killed each other when an argument escalated, later saying a 26-year old man killed Dario Martinez in self-defense.
- Sept. 30: 35-year-old man shot and killed at the Valero Gas Station at 10870 Harts Road.
- Nov. 21: 34-year-old man fatally shot in a car at 10800 Harts Road.
“We are talking about a place where (police) told us there have been over 800 calls for service, so how is that not enough of a nuisance for the city to close it down?” Gaffney asked. “Why do you think I am so darn frustrated? I don’t know. I am frustrated with my colleagues. I am frustrated with the mayor. I am frustrated with the sheriff.”
Gaffney said this is a problem he can’t fix alone. He fears that as long as the hotel remains open, someone else will die.
“This community doesn’t deserve that. I have other issues in District Seven but this has become a priority. Sometimes I feel helpless because nobody has a real answer for me,” he said.
Gaffney said Sheriff Mike Williams has asked him to be patient with the process. Gaffney said he could possibly write up an ordinance that could close the hotel down, but he wants to make sure it is a legal option. Gaffney said the owner of the Gold Rush Inn does not live in Jacksonville.