GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Bar owners told city officials during a meeting Friday that they believe teenagers who are hanging out on the streets are to blame for the recent violence downtown.
City Manager Greg Sundstrom says bar owners told him in the last couple weeks they have seen groups of teenagers hanging out in the arena district.
“They described it as the last couple of weeks, maybe coinciding with school getting out, in that a number of kids and they described as one to two hundred of them on a Friday or Saturday night that don’t come downtown for any purpose other than to hang out on the street,” said Sundstrom.
The city’s strategy is aimed at young people. Police will be beefing up patrols in the arena district and kids younger than 17 have to be off the streets by midnight.
There are some bar owners who are going to ban anybody under the age of 21 after 9 p.m.
“We will not accept roving gangs of high school hooligans or anyone for that matter causing trouble,” Sundstrom says.
The victims in the Tuesday morning shooting on Ionia Avenue, in the heart of the arena district, are a 16-year-old from Grand Rapids and 17-year-old from Wyoming. Police say they are looking at video from security cameras to help track down the shooter.
Sundstrom says kids and guns are not a new problem for the city. Police have created a ten officer team focusing on kids with guns.
Even with the recent violence downtown, many people told 24 Hour News 8 they feel safe downtown and are happy to see more cops patrolling.
“But no, I don’t feel fearful at all. I mean, I feel like Grand Rapids is a pretty safe town,” said Trisha Prickett.
“I think safety is always important so that exciting to me that they’ll be around, but at the same time I think people are just bored and they need something to do. So, I’m excited the police will be more involved, but at the same time just reroute people’s energy,” Julia Hurlo told 24 Hour News 8.