Gaslamp Quarter

Is the Gaslamp Quarter Safe? Spike in Gun Violence Raises Safety Concerns

Concerns about safety come after two shootings overnight in the Gaslamp Quarter. In one, a man was killed outside a bar

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Take a stroll during the day in the Gaslamp Quarter and everything feels peaceful and calm, but over the past few months, there have been several high-profile acts of violence in the area at night.

It’s gotten so bad, two workers who spoke to NBC 7 off-camera said they try to leave early in the evening just to avoid potential violence.

San Diego police are searching for the gunman who shot and killed a man outside a downtown bar.

Police said a fight between two groups on Sunday night led to a shooting outside a Gaslamp bar. Austin Arroyo did chest compressions on the victim, who later died.

“Downtown San Diego, it’s gotten pretty wild within the past few months,” Arroyo said. “I think a lot more shootings coming out of here. I heard four gunshots. Everybody started running. A small guy fell on the ground; started running toward him. When I got up there, he had a gunshot through his neck.”

Minutes earlier, there was a drive-by shooting nearby. Luckily, no one was hurt in that incident.

Since April, two people have been killed -- there was a mass shooting on April 22 where one person was killed and four others were shot. Police are responding to more violent crimes and shootings, and people who work, hang out or live in the neighborhood are fearful.

The suspected gunman kept on walking after shooting four men in the Gaslamp until two men decided to chase and stop him before he could pull the trigger again. NBC 7's Amber Frias spoke to one of those men.

Less than two years, Sia Hodjeatae moved to San Diego to retire.

“I don’t feel safe here anymore," Hodjeateae said. "Even though living in LA was rough, but here, it’s been really getting out of hand in the past many, many months,."

Hodjeatae lives within walking distance to the Gaslamp’s busy Fifth Avenue, but in a few months, he plans to head back to L.A, because of the rise in violence.

“I think the city of San Diego needs to step up," Hodjeatae said. "They need to step up and take care of their citizens."

Last week, San Diego police launched a Violence Reduction Plan to address the increase in violent crime; specifically, gun violence.

Compared with last year during the pandemic, police said violence has nearly doubled or tripled in the following four categories: gang-related homicides, attempted homicides, assaults with a deadly weapon and drive-by shootings. but the data doesn’t account for the fact that the pandemic kept more people inside.

City of San Diego spokesman Jose Ysea said people shouldn’t be afraid to visit the Gaslamp Quarter.

“Avoid confrontations," Ysea said. “I know tempers can flare and that can result in harm or even death to some people, so let’s try to stay even-keeled, and again, if you see something, say something.”

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