Recent gunfire concerns residents from small Alexandria neighborhood

Three separate incidents involving guns have neighbors in Alexandria, Virginia, concerned.

Gunshots and an armed robbery in the Parker-Gray Historic District, near Princess and West Streets, have rattled nerves among neighbors who shared their thoughts during a community walk with city leaders early Wednesday evening beneath a steady rainfall.

“On New Year’s Eve morning, there were five gunshots at nine in the morning, and then this past Friday, at 1:11 in the morning, there were 16 gunshots,” resident Robin Baldwin said.  “And then on Saturday, there was an armed robbery, where the individual that was robbed didn’t want to cooperate with the police department.”

The recent gunfire has upset residents who said they’ve not experienced the problem in the past. Rebecca Beattie, who lives on Princess Street, said her concern grew since the first shooting, which occurred right outside of her house.

“We’ve been woken up multiple times in the middle of the night,” Beattie said. “We have a 7-week-old baby, so we’re scared. We’ve lived here a long time. We’ve never had any experience like this; It’s very concerning.”

Alexandria Police Chief Don Hayes said police presence in the neighborhood has been stepped up since the first week of the year and a mobile video camera is being deployed to the neighborhood.

“That will give them a sense of security but also gives us some eyes when we’re not able to be here,” Hayes said.

While many police departments throughout the region are suffering from staff shortages, Hayes said Alexandria is doing “pretty good” — short about 22 officers from a fully authorized force of 328, with 20 currently in training at the police academy.

While some residents praised the responses by city officials, their assurances did not satisfy everyone.

“I think what’s frustrating is we’re hearing from Chief Hayes that the city does have enough resources to keep the community safe,” resident Matthew Gottfried said. “At the same time, we’re hearing they don’t have enough resources to keep the community safe.”

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, who also attended the walk, said curbing gun violence will take some time and investments in mental health, gang prevention and mentorship.

“This type of violence has no place in our city and our neighborhoods,” said Wilson. “They have a right to be concerned, and unfortunately, we’re not alone in dealing with this. This is a challenge that a lot of jurisdictions in the region are dealing with it. It requires a whole bunch of layers of response.”

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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