Greensboro leaders address downtown violence

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro City Council and city leaders are meeting this week to discuss security efforts downtown Greensboro.

The talks come after two violent incidents downtown last weekend, a shooting overnight Friday and a stabbing overnight Saturday.

The shooting injured three and killed one. Police say a fifth man was shot by officers who arrived and saw the man still firing a gun. It happened at South Elm Street and Lewis Street downtown after the people involved left nearby nightclubs, according to investigators.

The next night, police say a person was stabbed in the neck at Lotus Lounge, a nightclub on the same block where the shooting happened.

Councilman Zack Matheny said, "We've talked about downtown issues and safety for the eight years I've been on Council. We've talked about strategies. Now it's time to really implement some strategies," he said. "Let's stop debating and discussing and get this done."

Business owners and residents are meeting with city leaders and council members Monday night and later this week.

"I don't think you can prevent hatred and stupidity. I mean, that leads to violence. But you can try your best to deter as much as possible," Metheny added.

He believes it would help to increase officer presence downtown and revisit the Police Department's proposal to install a downtown city camera surveillance system.

Matheny insisted, "We need to exhaust all resources."

City Manager Jim Westmoreland said they are already working on training with downtown nightclub security officers and will continue to do so.

He said the city already commits a lot of resources to downtown security through the Police Department. City staff will evaluate what happened this past weekend and make suggestions to Council next week about any possible additional safety measure suggestions to deter future violence.

Westmoreland says they will be "determining in terms of what we already have on the books -- was that effective? Or are there things we need to do or modify to make it even more effective in the future?"

He added, "Most of our clubs if not all of our clubs downtown are very responsible as it relates to entry and access to their club and facilities."

But he said guns, violence, drugs and other criminal activities in such public places won't be tolerated.

Police patrols will be increased for this week and weekend, said Westmoreland.

In a statement, Mayor Nancy Vaughan called the weekend incidents unacceptable, and said such violence is not welcome anywhere in the city.

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