by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is reporting that a Little Rock police officer shot a man pointing a gun at him about 2 a.m. this morning at Markham and Scott Streets. The shooting occurred in front of the Hop Diner, just below the second-floor windows of the Arkansas Times and two blocks west of the River Market.
The man was shot three times and has life-threatening injuries. The confrontation happened after the man was seen running from a crowd and ordered to stop. Channel 4 reports that the man who was shot might have been responsible for shooting another man in the foot moments earlier. More here from Fox 16.
A crowd gathered at 2 a.m. near the city's prime bar district? Not a good thing. And apparently it has become a pattern, which perhaps explains why a cop was present early this morning. Thugs have long preyed on people in the shadows as they returned to cars from nightclubs, sometimes in shaky condition. Coincidentally, I referenced this problem in our podcast Friday afternoon. But a threat from groups of people in a well-lit place at a major intersection is trouble of a new sort.
On the jump, read the account of an
robbery assault of a young man one week ago in almost the identical location, the parking lot west across Scott from the Hop. (It is catacorner from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, by the way.) A copy of this message was sent to Mayor Mark Stodola, who's been criticized by a police group for paying more attention to economic development than public safety in his tax package. I know this: gangs of thugs in front of the city convention center are not good for economic development.
Below is a summary of what happened to me Friday night downtown. A friend of mine wanted a detail report so he could forward on to people he knows with an interest in cleaning up the problems occurring in the River Market area. I'm just forwarding this to friends I know that might frequent this area to caution them about being extra careful in the future if/when you go out downtown. Feel free to forward this on as this is a growing problem in the area and the city need to make efforts to clean this up.
Friday night I went downtown to the Rev Room for the Boom Kenetic concert. I parked in the pay lot in front of that wine bar and directly across from the state house convention center ($10 pay lot btw). I parked on the row closest to President Clinton Blvd facing the convention center. We left the Rev room approx 12:45-1 timeframe. We noticed walking back there was a large african american population loitering the streets and even commented I wonder if there was a concert or something down here tonight. Never in my walk back to the car did I feel the least bit threatened though.
Upon approaching the parking lot I noticed a large group of people hanging out about 5-10 feet in front of where we were parked on the sidewalk. The group was made up of both guys and girls, I'm guessing ages between 18-25, all African american. I unlocked the doors with my key chain and opened the door and got in the car. I remember hearing some chatter like "where you guys going" or "what are y'all doing," but never acknowledged they were talking to us or made eye contact, I just assumed it was normal banter and again, I never felt the least bit of concern for my safety at this point.
I got in the car, shut my door, inserted key into the ignition and I guess I was looking down as I put the car in reverse because I never noticed anyone approaching the car. Had I noticed or felt threatened I might have tried to lock my doors. As I was starting to back up my car door got pulled open and 2 young black guys starting assaulting me while I was in the car. Both were throwing punches repeatedly. I was really stunned at this point and it took me several seconds before I realized what was happening. Mainly because it was a well populated, well lit area, a lot of people walking up and down the street, it was surprising they would try to jump someone unprovoked, out in front of everyone. I had my forearms up during most of the altercation and luckily didn't suffer any injuries or blows to the face, only minor bruises.
While this was going on I could hear several people beating on my car, both on the front hood and the back trunk and sides. I know for sure there were 2 guys in my door throwing punches at me. My friend in the passenger seat was also getting assaulted. He never even got the door shut before someone was attacking him. After 10-15 seconds of the initial attack, I came to my senses enough to realize the car was already in reverse and slammed on the accelerator and angled the wheel enough to give me a clear path of escape. This gave me enough separation from the attackers to shut the car door, put the car in drive and speed out of the parking lot. Even as we were leaving the parking lot we could hear them banging the back of my car.
After we got out of there we discussed should we go back and find a cop to report the incident. We were both so flustered we didn't want to go anywhere near the area. It's not like the cops were going to go arrest anyone anyway.
I would like to know if there are security cameras in the area that could pull up what transpired. I placed a police report today. It was only upon the urging of several trusted friends that I placed the report. They all agreed that these incidents need to be made public so there can be more awareness about cleaning up the problems going on downtown. I can tell you I will never go back to this area after dark and just about everyone I've told this story too made the same comments.