ST. LOUIS – The streets are quiet by day. At night, many residents say they would not dream of being outside.
Fox 2 obtained video captured by a loft resident who lives on Washington Avenue showing a man playing with a handgun while sitting outside of a pizza shop for nearly an hour. At one point you hear a flurry of gunfire and the man reacts.
Brad Waldrop, who saw the video said, “That’s when he pulls his gun out and starts getting it ready for, I don’t know I guess that’s just street life down here at this point.”
Waldrop, who lives and works downtown, says the gunfire he hears is just one reason why it’s out of control.
“Downtown is built like a racetrack. We have very wide streets, wide one-ways and until we have a comprehensive approach of police manpower, and we need new infrastructure to reduce the width of some of these streets and make better pedestrian connections, we’re not getting rid of this,” said Waldrop.
Waldrop and former East-West Gateway Director Les Sterman met with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson Tuesday to push for a comprehensive plan to fix downtown crime.
“If we lose our downtown because we’re not paying attention, I think that’s the economic viability of this region and the reputation of this region nationwide,” said Les Sterman.
In June Sterman wrote a warning letter to the mayor saying in part, “The reputation of downtown is rapidly deteriorating, even among many of us who are passionately committed to living and working here.”
He said he didn’t get a response.
Today the Mayor said she would hear him out. Her office told Fox 2, “This morning, Mayor Krewson met with downtown St. Louis residents and other stakeholders to gain additional insight about how the city might be able to adapt its existing strategies. It was a good meeting and she very much appreciates their input, feedback, and shared vision of maintaining the safety of a vibrant neighborhood.”
Sterman said the approach needs to be comprehensive and “not just piecemeal one-off things like putting up a bunch of barricades.” He continued, “We’ve been very permissive in granting liquor licenses, in some cases the people have simply not been truthful in the applications. We have a number of problem properties, you know whether it’s a couple of gas stations in downtown that serve as gathering places for bad things to happen – there’s a whole host of issues – it’s not just law enforcement, it’s not just the police, it’s not just traffic control.”
Read Les Sterman’s June letter to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson
Read Sterman’s follow up July email
Citizens for a Greater Downtown letter to property owners about the renewal of the community improvement district.