TAMPA, Fla. — Business owners in Tampa’s west neighborhoods are urging city leaders and police to do more on crime as parts of Tampa’s inner city continue to rebuild.
Jason Burrelli grew up in the West Tampa area, which is one of the reasons he chose to move his business, Heart and Soul Tattoo Lounge, there.
“It’s definitely changed a lot, but as I said, unfortunately, around this corner, we have a lot of problems with violence and crime,” Borelli said.
In the five years he has called the space the home of his tattoo business, at least five people have died near his shop. He knew the area was under construction, but said shootings and crime had overshadowed its potential.
“There are tenants who have tried to make a living and tried to start small businesses and have been kicked out,” Burrelli said.
Matthew Juaire is about to be one of those businesses.
He opened Bay Cannon Brewery three years ago and has now closed its doors to customers and employees following a fatal shooting in early December.
“The garage door was open. We had music on and the shooting happened during business hours and bullets went into the building and into the beer fridges in the building. You know, we’d tell a different story if someone was standing there, said Juaire.
For years, he turned to the city government and the police for help. Communication lines have been cleared, but he said problems persist.
“Obviously, everyone is behind it. Everyone wants it to work, including the city,” Juaire said.
He and other business owners agree that the police responded after the shooting, but they didn’t stay in the area long enough to address the real crime in the area.
“Right now, it’s getting out of hand, and like I said, it’s almost like a cry for help. Like we absolutely need the city’s help to clean up the area and make some changes,” Burrelli said.
ABC Action News reached out to the City of Tampa and the Police Department for comment on their concerns about West Tampa. We are still waiting for a reply.