After a shooting in downtown Orlando over the weekend that left seven people injured, changes are afoot to curb the violence, which local business owners say is a good thing.
What You Need to Know
- After a shooting this past weekend, local police are adding checkpoints downtown
- Local businesses are happy with the change
- Leaders want people to still come downtown and feel safe
Mayor Dyer announced Monday that access checkpoints will be set up as early as this weekend for those wishing to head to the area.
John SanFelippo owns numerous downtown bars, restaurants and music venues including The Social, The Beachem and Aero.
“Twelve in all in downtown Orlando,” he said. “I’ve been down here 27 years, we’re not going anywhere.”
His longevity in the downtown area was one reason he was devastated to hear the news of a shooting that injured seven just yards away from his businesses.
“Well, it’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?” he said. “I mean, nobody wants to hear violence anywhere, and especially when it’s at the front door.”
SanFelippo said he was happy to hear the city and Orlando police were taking action. The current plan is to bring in six access control points, which will help control who enters and leaves the city center this weekend.
One of them will leave right outside several businesses in San Felippo.
“This is just going to be an added layer of protection to what’s already being done to keep the bad elements out of people coming downtown,” he said. “Where there’s 20,000 to 30,000 people a night who want to go out and have a good time, and not one or two people could disrupt what we’re doing down here.”
City officials said similar access checkpoints have already been used three times: for New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo.
“They set up their barricades, and it’s kind of a funnel point and people just walk on, they don’t think twice,” SanFelippo said. “They basically have handlers on either side of the exits and they tell people, ‘Hey, just walk down the middle.’ , 99% of people just walk around without thinking about it.”
Orlando officials say they are also supporting local businesses with the SAFE grant program, which pays 50 percent of the cost, up to $10,000, if approved, of security upgrades to metal detectors and cameras of security.
SanFelippo said he already takes his own precautions for his businesses, notifying customers and using security cameras. He hopes the businesses and the city can make people feel safe when visiting the area on weekends.
“They have to have a comfort level and they have to feel safe in downtown Orlando,” SanFelippo said.
He said he believes that, overall, downtown Orlando remains a very safe place to visit.