Milwaukee leaders work to prevent more deadly violence outside downtown bars
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - Last Saturday, a 31-year-old man was shot to death around 1:40 a.m. on Water Street, near a group of bars in downtown Milwaukee.
Until that point, David Robertson was enjoying a quiet night selling hot dogs.
"I'm listening...bang, bang," Robertson said. "Bang, bang, bang. All those shots getting fired. I was like uh oh, somebody got shot and killed."
The next day, two more people were injured by gunfire on Water Street. The weekend prior, a Milwaukee police officer was allegedly hit in the face on Water Street to the point where she had to be taken to the hospital to close the wound on her head.
This weekend, businesses are making or considering changes. There are more "no loitering" signs on downtown bar windows. Ian's Pizza is closing three hours early over the weekend. Other businesses are considering outright closing on Saturday next weekend if things aren't resolved.
Alderman Robert Bauman represents the downtown area, and said the city needs to take action.
"I'm getting emails and calls from people who live in the neighborhood that are literally petrified," Bauman said. "Petrified. They're afraid to leave their buildings."
The violence is not good for business in an area coming off a difficult economic year.
"Doing this kind of work, sometimes that kind of affects what I do because people will take off running, and we lose customers," Robertson said.
City leaders and businesses describe the scene as something like a tailgate in the street with guns being brandished, as well as open alcohol and drug consumption. Businesses said those partying in the street are not even going to businesses.
"I have had meetings with business leaders, and the police, and DPW, to see what we can do because we have had a problem with literally thousands of people congregating in the downtown area," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
Bauman said the situation could get worse and have a lasting impact.
"We could have a very explosive situation that has the potential of doing long-term damage to the image of downtown as a safe place."