Neighboring Businesses To Take Action on Elks Club Safety Issues

By: Jessica Cunnington Email
By: Jessica Cunnington Email

March 17, 2013

Businesses near the Elks Club in Downtown Charlottesville are talking about taking action not only on the shooting that took place early Saturday morning outside of the club, but about the safety issue they've faced just being a neighbor.

"Every Friday night there's a fight, there's bloodshed somehow," says Jaclynn Dunkle, the owner of Fellini's.

She says she was not surprised when one of her employees called her late Friday night to say shots were fired and two men were down outside of the restaurant. Dunkle says she's had to deal with incidents like this for a while now.

"I had to hire a door guy for security. I had to install a panic button that gets to police on time."

She says she also began closing an hour and a half early on Friday nights. She was losing business to keep everyone safe.

"So that I can get everyone out of here by 1 a.m. when their parties are over, everyone leaves there and comes out to the street," she said.

Police say the officer-involved shooting after midnight on Saturday started as an altercation between two African-American men outside of the Elks Club. Businesses across the street say those kinds of fights and confrontations are frequent.

"Not only one time, it's been several times. After midnight, it's different," said Areeya Daengtongdee, the manager of Monsoon Siam.

"Two patrons from the Elks Lodge came spilling out and got into a fight, and a patron was literally thrown through my window," said Sigrid Eilertson, the owner of Fire Fish Gallery. She said she had to get the window replaced back in September after it happened.

The neighboring businesses all seem to agree that it's a community safety issue.

"Shopkeepers are just fed up. It's unsafe for the patrons of our places, it's unsafe for our staff members," Eilertson said.

"The safety of the people just on the street, the safety of their own guests that are there at a party. It's not just, 'Oh what if we get hit.' Somebody got hit," Dunkle said.

Dunkle says she's not sure exactly how yet but she will take action. She says it's unfortunate it has to take another shooting to make people aware of the issue.

Eilertson says she's going to start a petition with other businesses.

There is no update yet from police on the status or names of the two men wounded and sent to UVa hospital early Saturday morning.

Charlottesville police are still investigating.

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