People disagree with Roanoke police chief, think more officers can solve downtown's problems

Downtown bars call for increased officer presence

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - 10 News is learning more about the early Sunday morning shooting in downtown Roanoke from a man who witnessed it firsthand.

"All of a sudden, I hear people screaming and arguing," Robert Mazza said. "I came out here and look and there was just a huge crowd."

Mazza is the head of security at Shiska, just down the street from the scene of the incident, so he took it upon himself to try to control the crowd.

"I thought there was too many people in danger so I came back because I thought I could maybe do something," Mazza said.

He changed his mind when a bouncer at Awful Arthur's told him someone had a gun. Soon after, he heard the gunshots.

"Then everyone was running all over the place and it was just complete chaos. People were screaming. You had no idea if there was going to be more shots," Mazza said.

Police Chief Tim Jones said 10 officers on patrol in the downtown area at the time responded within seconds.

"Obviously, putting more police officers won't fix it because this individual felt perfectly comfortable walking through at least 10 to get a gun, and shoot someone," Jones said.

Without increased presence, downtown bars are working on their own plan to keep the area safe, but Mazza said police need to be part of that conversation instead of taking themselves out of it.

"The summer months are going to be rough and hopefully we can change things before that happens. We don't have much time but I believe it can be done," Mazza said.

Another piece of Jones' news conference Monday that's catching some heat is how he compared the incident to a rap video. Some people are calling that racist and now calling for his resignation because of it.

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