Incidents bring extra police focus to Downtown

More Salisbury police will patrol Downtown and monitor additional DUI checkpoints, after a fight in a large crowd that resulted in multiple stabbings and hurt the credibility of a popular restaurant.

The initial police report stated the crowd left Roadie Joe’s at closing time, around 2 a.m. Saturday, and the fight began in the gated area between West Main Street and parking lots along Camden.

But that report, Roadie Joe’s owner Jeremy Norton said, “was catastrophic” to his business.

“It happened in the wee hours of the morning, but fortunately it didn’t happen here. The first thing that went out, and that the television news reported, was that it happened at Roadie Joe’s.

“The amount of damage that did has been so bad. I’ve been dealing with it all weekend,” Norton said early this week.

“It happened in the parking lot alleyway at Parker Place. It’s been a nuisance for awhile. A gang gathered there. The bars had just let out and Downtown was packed,” Norton said.

He’s concerned for his business, but also doesn’t want Downtown to develop a reputation for being unsafe.

“We’re doing really, really big things down here as a community,” Norton said, crediting Mayor Jake Day and Police Chief Barbara Duncan for meeting with him Saturday afternoon for a “really good” session.

“We talked about the proactive things we’re going to be doing to prevent something like this from happening again, like illuminating the back parking lot, patrolling it better. We already do everything we’re supposed to be doing. There were no problems in here that night. In the four years we’ve been open, we’ve never had a major issue,” Norton said.

Day told the Salisbury Independent he is “incredibly upset by what happened.”

“Saturday morning, I had the owner of the bar, the adjacent property owner and the police chief around my dining room table. Each party communicated exactly what they were going to do to reduce the likelihood of this event happening again,” the mayor said.

Duncan said the police department will be “detailing additional officers to support existing patrols.”

“You can expect to see additional DUI check points and other alcohol-related enforcement measures in the area where the crime took place,” she said.

Day called the incident “most definitely alcohol related.”

“It occurred in a crowd leaving a bar at closing time,” he said.

Duncan said the focus will be “protecting the revitalization efforts of our Downtown community.”

“After meeting with our business partners we have revised our patrol model for this area of our Downtown in an effort to prevent a similar incident,” she said.

Concerned about references to his restaurant, Norton issued an e-mail, calling the area where the crowd gathered “a very dimly lit, blighted piece of property that has been a constant concern for safety at night for quite some time.”

He said he has met with city officials about it and the short-term solution was heavier police patrols at night.

The property is private, though, so the city can’t illuminate or fence it, Norton said.

Even so, he said he is confident in city police and doesn’t feel unsafe when he’s Downtown.

“It’s very unfortunate that this happened and we pray that all individuals involved are doing well,” Norton said.

“This is a speed bump. In a few weeks nobody will be talking about it anymore.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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