VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As the Easter Weekend begins, there’s cautious optimism that the events of last Friday — where nine people were injured and two died in multiple shootings, one of which was officer-involved — will not be repeated.
Leaders hope it will lead to a successful and lucrative summer at the Virginia Beach resort strip.
21st Street Seafood Company and Raw Bar is all about the beach, and its owner, Tony Schmidt, is confident there will be no repeat of last week.
“I would like to see everybody kind of have a peaceful weekend, work out the differences, make sure this doesn’t happen again, and move on from there,” Schmidt said.
Legendary Peabody’s at 21st Street and Pacific Avenue is having a grand re-opening after being closed since November due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I’m very positive it’s going to be a great time. We have a lot of employees, and they have been waiting for this moment to reopen for a long time,” Peabody’s Owner Brandon Ramsey said.
Meanwhile, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer knows the spotlight is on now that leaders have discussed ways to improve safety at the Oceanfront. He said he’s confident the additional police presence planned for the area will calm rattled nerves.
“We live in a city of heroes, and our police are heroes,” said Dyer.
Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson lives on the resort strip. Atlantic Avenue is her home.
“We are going to have a larger police presence than we have been having. They were already gearing up for April 1st anyway. Last weekend was much warmer weather than expected, and it took them by surprise that the warm weather would hit that quickly,” she said.
Virginia Beach is sold as the place where families come to vacation, and business owners depend on public confidence Virginia Beach is safe.
“I hate to say it, but it’s up to the police. I am just a restauranteur. Some of my friends are in the bar business. It is not our responsibility to police. It is theirs, and I think they can do it in a positive manner… Hopefully everybody can get together on this for positive change, and maybe make a difference and change the way, due to all that has happened, to make it for the better,” Schmidt said.
As 10 On Your Side first reported Wednesday, the Resort Advisory Commission is calling on City Council to increase police funding for additional staffing and tools to ensure safety like new ShotSpotter technology.
We asked Dyer, the mayor, about that.
“I think that is an idea that is on the table.”
On the table, along with more lighting along the resort strip.
Wilson’s message to police: “Do your job. They are professional. We have a great police department, and I’m very proud of our men and women in blue. They are there to protect us and protect our city.”
Wilson thinks the resort strip is safe, and additional police presence is the way to go toward making it better and safer.