NORFOLK, Va. — After four people were shot in Downtown Norfolk early Friday morning, Norfolk city leaders said they are cracking down on all businesses in the entertainment district.
"Make no mistake, this latest event is now the end," said Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer during a press conference.
Around 1:30 Friday morning, Interim Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith said an “altercation" first began inside Legacy Restaurant and Lounge on E Plume St.
As people were leaving, police said 25-year-old Tyshawn Gray began firing into the crowd. A Norfolk sheriff’s deputy and three other men were shot. They are all expected to be okay.
"I actually heard the shots," said Downtown Norfolk Civic League Vice President Preston Carraway. "Like a lot of the folks down here, I'm very angry that this has happened again."
Jonathon Almodovar, the manager of Brick-Anchor Brew House, agrees. He said he's sad to see this violence again.
"To see that is a little alarming," he said. "No one likes to see violence. I've lived in this area for 22 years. To be able to see that is just not good for the community. It's not good for the safety of people just walking around Granby Street."
Filer said they've had enough.
"We are now at a point where I think it is safe to say that the enhanced police presence, the technology, the cameras and our efforts to try and curb this behavior are going undeterred by the individuals coming to the downtown area that are bent on creating mayhem," said Filer.
Goldsmith said 14 officers were patrolling the downtown area when the shooting happened.
"We do not think that this is, at this point, a law enforcement problem. This is a regulatory issue that needs to be taken up with the businesses," Filer said.
With that in mind, Filer said they are going to evaluate every business in the entertainment district in the coming weeks and months.
"Operating downtown in Norfolk is a privilege," he said. "We have tried cajoling, we have tried asking, we have tried incentivizing, we have tried begging. Those days are now over and the repercussions will now begin."
Going forward, he said he expects every downtown business owner to present reasons why they should continue operation, what they contribute to the downtown community and their conditional use permit. He said all CUPs will be evaluated.
"That explanation should include very clearly what benefits you provide to the overall culture, health and entertainment of our citizens by way of your establishment operating in the downtown district," Filer said.
When it comes to crime that happens on the street and not directly inside the business, Filer said it's time businesses take responsibility.
"You are no longer able to claim immunity for things that occur outside your establishment when we can find evidence that creates no doubt that the genesis of the activity occurred in your establishment," he said.
Carraway said he applauds that sentiment.
"We want to see businesses being held accountable for the activity that happens inside their place of business, as well as what is happening immediately outside."
Almodovar said between the increased police presence and six temporary cameras placed downtown by the city, he wants everyone to feel safe walking around.
"We’re doing our part as well, and we are always making sure that people feel comfortable and welcomed coming into our establishment and only hope the same for everyone else around."
During that press conference, Interim Chief Goldsmith would not go into specifics about how the alleged altercation started, or whether the gun was brought inside the business to begin with. However, he did say six police surveillance cameras in the area did not catch any part of the shooting. The city pays $7,800 per month to rent those cameras.
Goldsmith did say they have access to other cameras in the area to use as evidence.
So far in 2022, 15 people have been shot in Downtown Norfolk.