Uptown chaos causes DNC concern

Published: May. 30, 2011 at 8:48 PM EDT|Updated: Dec. 30, 2011 at 9:36 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Speed Street turned dire this weekend in more ways than one. For many businesses and fans of the festival, Thursday and Friday were disappointments due to bad weather.

The next night, however, was downright dangerous.

At 1 a.m. Sunday morning, Speed Street had shut down, but thousands of festival goers were still uptown, and that's when things got chaotic.

Andy Davis was there when the sound of gunfire started cracking through the crowd's noise.

"There were two female traffic officers, and one male officer, and they were, like, taking cover because they didn't know what was going on," David says. "We ran behind Panera bread and jumped a couple of bushes." David says he was running with a crowd, "and then we looked to our right, and there was a guy just laying there and blood was pouring from him."

One man died, another was injured, and it all led to one of the city's largest mass arrests.

Related article: One killed, 70 arrested in uptown Charlotte melee

The trouble started at the Charlotte Transit Center between 4th and Trade Streets, when groups of 50 or more started confronting each other and refused to leave even when police closed in. CMPD believes the incident could have been gang related.

And the Transit Center is just blocks from Time warner Cable Arena and the Convention Center, the two buildings here that will be the heart of the Democratic National Convention.

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Mayor Anthony Foxx and other local DNC officials told reporters this weekend that they're confident the city is up to the task of securing the convention.

But they were also confident they had a handle on Speed Street before things went so wrong there.

"It's safe," Charlotte Fire Department Deputy Chief Jeff Dulin said Friday morning. "We've got over 400 first responders down here providing safety and security and protection for people coming out here to enjoy themselves."

Of course, the city will hardly be alone in securing the DNC. There will be FBI and Secret Service. But it is also clear that a national spotlight is on Charlotte right now, and the city's reputation will be scrutinized.

Late Monday, Mayor Foxx released the following statement:

"The crime that took place Sunday morning is disturbing and unacceptable.  Neither our center city nor any of our neighborhoods are appropriate places for violence. Over the last twenty four hours, our police force has been focused on getting to the bottom of this incident. I have full confidence that Chief Monroe will use all of the tools available to find and ensure the prosecution of those responsible and take preemptive actions to make sure this rare occurrence does not repeat itself. While Charlotte's crime rate is the lowest in 30 years, the events of Sunday morning are a harsh reminder that we still have more work to do."

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