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Council members: Upcoming downtown projects will help reduce crime in the area

A shooting at the Hyatt Regency was part of a violent weekend in and around the Downtown Core. We look into security in the area.
A shooting at the Hyatt Regency was part of a violent weekend in and around the Downtown Core. We look into security in the area.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a violent weekend in and around the downtown core.

The two most notable shootings were a shooting in a bathroom at the Hyatt hotel and a drive-by on the Eastside.

The hotel shooting happened in a restroom near the entrance to Morton’s steakhouse restaurant. JSO is still investigating that shooting.

MORE | 6 Jacksonville residents shot in less than 24 hours; 306 shot this year

The Eastside shooting happened near downtown at East 3rd Street and Franklin Street. Two 14-year-olds were shot but have survived. News4Jax spoke with Ahmad Merriweather who lives near that neighborhood. He said crime has been lower in that area than in years past.

“It used to be a long time ago. But not that much anymore,” said Merriweather.

Both these shootings are not far from TIAA Bank Field where there has been ongoing community discussion about major construction projects that could include apartments, restaurants and other buildings.

“We really need to get a handle on crime in the city at large,” said City Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber whose district encompasses the Southbank of Downtown. “And we need to have a real sense of urgency in developing downtown, both with major projects but also with, you know, smaller projects that will improve downtown and get more foot traffic downtown, which will help alleviate some of the crime.”

City Council President Sam Newby agrees.

“Most of the time, criminals don’t like to be around a lot of people, so that’s why downtown redevelopment is important,” Newby said.

City Councilman Matt Carlucci thirds the notion.

“Right now, there’s no vibrancy downtown. It’s dark,” he said.

Carlucci said getting more jobs into the downtown area is important, too.

“More workforce, better jobs,” he said. “The best social program is a job.”

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said foot traffic can help.

He added that JSO will need to increase its presence downtown if hundreds or thousands of people move into the area.

“If there’s an influx in population, 3,000 or more people, with all of the developments going on, they’re going to have to increase the patrols,” said Jefferson.

According to News4Jax records, there have been fewer shootings this year than at this point in 2020.


About the Authors:

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.