Three shootings over the weekend prompted an emergency meeting between Plaza Midwood business owners and employees and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police to address the violence. “When you have multiple shootings that take place at one specific area, you need to try and figure out how to protect that area and those people that work there,” said Lewis Donald, who owns Dish restaurant. The meeting took place March 30 at 2 p.m. at Dish, located at 1220 Thomas Ave. in the heart of the Plaza Midwood business district. 

At 1:24 a.m. on Saturday, March 26, police officers responded to a call for gunshots in the 1200 block of Pecan Avenue. Officers found shell casings on the ground, according to a police report. Only an empty vehicle was “struck by a projectile,” the report said. 

Around 10 a.m., a person was shot in the 1500 block of Central Avenue, a police report shows. A crowd of people scattered down the busy stretch of Plaza Midwood’s business district, according to video obtained by Queen City News. “When you have a shooting in broad daylight at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, I think that starts to raise questions of our customers and our employees’ safety,” Donald said. 

On Sunday at 2:28 a.m., an off-duty police officer working at the Peculiar Rabbit heard gunshots being fired in an alleyway, according to a CMPD report. The officer found a black Glock .38. 

The goal of the meeting is to bring businesses together to come up with solutions to prevent further escalation of crime and violence in the neighborhood, Vinroy Washington Reid, owner of Mama’s Caribbean Grill, said. “This has always been a safe community,” Reid said. “I am one of the original businesses that’s still here after 20 years, and we rarely have this type of incident.” 

Over the past four weeks, violent crime has been sparse in Plaza Midwood, according to CrimeMapping.com. The Plaza Midwood merchants and CMPD typically meet once a month already, but last weekend’s shootings have emphasized the need to increase safety in the area, Donald said. “Things happen on a daily basis all over the country, but when it’s that close to home, you try to do what you can to protect your own,” he said. “I got to worry about my staff, and I got to worry about my customers sitting here in broad daylight eating brunch.” Donald said his employees have expressed concerns for their safety. 

“I mean who wants to come to work when they don’t know if there’s going to be a shooting or not that day,” he said. Customers have continued to dine in the restaurant, but that could change if the violence continues, Donald said. “We don’t want to be known as that neighborhood,” he said. “We got to get out in front of it, put some policies and procedures into place for all the local businesses and work with CMPD to mitigate.”

This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer.

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