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Downtown Roanoke business owners react to weekend shooting

Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 7:47 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - As people were enjoying a night out in downtown Roanoke, there was a shooting around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot in the 100 block of Campbell Avenue near Market Street.

Two men are in Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital with gunshot wounds. One was taken with serious injuries, and the other got to Carilion by a personal car and has non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.

Folks waited in a long line for Fathers’ Day Brunch at Scrambled Sunday morning, while just a few feet away, police were staged at the crime scene on Campbell Avenue.

“It’s unfortunate,” Garry Fleming, co-owner of Scrambled Restaurant, said.

This shooting is one of several downtown in recent years.

“Businesses, now with all that we have to go through with COVID, trying to make it, and something like this happens, it’s just one more thing. We don’t want people to be afraid to come downtown,” Fleming said.

Ernie’s on the Market is another popular brunch spot just steps away from where the shooting took place.

“I think we need more of a police presence downtown. We’ve actually been thinking about opening up at night, but this is one reason we won’t, just ‘cause I don’t want my waitresses out here at three in the morning,” Scotty Smith, owner of Ernie’s on the Market, said.

And the store manager of Benny Marconi’s, a late-night pizza place, said a shooting so close to his business terrifies and hurts him.

“Anything like that is going to affect our business, which is going to make my brain unhappy because I want to be making money as a business, but it makes my heart unhappy because I want all of my people who work here and every single person who walks through those doors to feel safe,” Kyle Mariner, manager of Benny Marconi’s, said.

Folks who showed up for a fun Fathers’ Day brunch said crime tape and police cars were not a welcome sight.

“This is supposed to be Fathers’ Day because we’re both fathers and you come out here and find this and it definitely puts a damper on your whole day,” Roanoke resident Joe Hollingsworth said.

He has lived in Roanoke most of his life and wants this violence to end.

“This is the biggest shock since I’ve lived in this community. I can’t believe it. You see it on the news all the time and never think it’s going to happen here and it’s devastating, devastating,” he said.

Police responded to the scene after hearing many gunshots. At the time of this incident, a silent disco fundraiser was happening outside in the Market Square. Organizers of that disco say the shooting did not involve any of its participants.

No one has been arrested.

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