MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A Mobile bar owner is asking city leaders to consider making changes to downtown safety after the deadly shooting on New Year’s Eve.
The owner of Saddle Up Saloon, which is just around the corner from where the shooting happened in Downtown Mobile, is asking the city and the city council to consider shortening the hours that people can drink on the streets and sidewalks. He is asking for city leaders to consider changing the hours of the ordinance from midnight to 9 p.m.
“The crowd on Dauphin Street now bring their own alcohol, play their own music, smoke pot, form congestive groups of people we now know are infiltrated by street gangs,” said Greg Loughlin when addressing the Mobile City Council Tuesday.
For the past nine months, Loughlin said he’s noticed a change in downtown.
“It’s really not a police issue other than just numbers. It’s just folks coming downtown taking advantage of the fact you can drink outside. They’re just sitting out there drinking, causing a ruckus,” said Loughlin.
His concerns escalated after police said a man began shooting into a crowd using a Glock with a switch, which is a small part that converts a semi-automatic gun to a fully automatic.
Loughlin believes shortening the hours of open containers could help make things safer downtown.
“We’re going to consider everything, everybody’s viewing this thing through some different lens, and some of them are viewing it from a lens that is from 11 o’clock to 3 o’clock or whatever. That’s not what I see so I have to listen to what somebody is saying. Everybody that has a suggestion is going to be listened to, to make sure we’ve properly vetted this thing to make sure we have properly vetted this thing so we come up with a great outturn,” said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
Councilmember William Carroll said he is not in favor of changing the open container hours.
“It’s unfortunate that the incident happened, but we can’t allow our businesses to suffer because of the act of an individual,” said Carroll. He added, “I’m really not in favor of rolling anything back in the entertainment district. Time, or actions, or times in which we close. I think that’s a benefit to our city, it drives entertainment, it drives industry and so many other things that support our businesses downtown.”
Public Safety Director Lawrence Battiste said they will consider everything and will go back to the drawing board and put together an aggressive plan.
“What I’m hearing is the problem has gotten worse again, and there are things we need to do to address the traffic flow,” said Battiste.
Several bar owners and managers will meet Wednesday with the Downtown Mobile Alliance and Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine to discuss safety issues.