Virginia Beach, Va. – Business owners at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront are reacting after a violent weekend that included shootings, stabbings and robberies.
George Smith owns Juice Box Surf Shop on Pacific Avenue. He was there when the violence erupted Saturday night.
“We closed down early just because of a lot of stuff we saw going on in the street,” Smith explained. “It was a nightmare. I’m surprised no one got killed this past weekend.”
Closing early was the safe option Smith said and the best one he had given the chaotic climate.
“There was no way for anybody that was going to be spending any money in Virginia Beach to get down to the Oceanfront and park much less walk around and feel safe about it,” Smith explained.
As he left his store, Smith couldn’t help but wonder what he’d find when he returned the next day.
“As I locked the door and walked away I was concerned about my business being able to make it through the night without the door getting busted in and stuff being stolen out of the shop – it was unnerving,” Smith stated.
With the busy summer tourist season fast approaching, many businesses at the Oceanfront can’t help but wonder what impact the weekend will have on their bottom lines this summer.
“It is definitely a stain going into the height of the busy season,” Smith explained. “I had people from California and Florida contact me to make sure I’m okay, the shop’s okay. It was a shot heard around the United States, so yea it’s a black eye for Virginia Beach.”
Smith says he was caught off guard by the crowds and thinks a larger police presence could have deterred some of the crimes.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that bad, but I knew it was going to get out of hand and there should have been a much larger presence from the police department in Virginia Beach – that would have helped out quite a bit,” Smith explained.