TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Safety is top of mind in Ybor City on Halloween, following the weekend’s mass shooting. Many are expecting crowds to pack bars on 7th Avenue despite the violence that unfolded Sunday morning.
“The caution tape was tied to our door. We had to get permission to leave from the officers because it was technically a crime scene, that’s when it started to feel real,” said Daniel Bareswilt, a manager at Big Easy Bar.
Many businesses along the street have cameras mounted outside. Footage from security systems and witnesses is important evidence in the shooting that killed two and injured 16 others.
“The Ybor squad has more folks than maybe a regular squad does because it’s a point of interest for us,” Danny Alvarez with the Tampa Police Benevolent Association said.
Leaders with the association recognize the area has historically been an area of safety concern.
Alvarez believes Sunday’s shooting is a unique situation. “There were groups that were arguing down there and there’s the potential that they were shooting at each other. If that’s what it is, then clearly this is definitely more than just random crime and random shootings which is what it seems to be leaning towards,” he said.
According to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, 55 officers were in the area during the deadly shooting.
“I don’t think things need to change in Ybor City. I mean, we have law enforcement out there. We have the majority of businesses that are trying to do the right thing,” she said.
Business owners and workers along 7th Avenue say they’d like the area’s reputation to improve. “I think there’s more to say about Ybor and I want to be part of people associating this neighborhood with more than what that night was,” Bareswilt said.