Ballpark business owner worries about increased shootings in the neighborhood

Aug 14, 2023, 6:45 PM | Updated: Aug 15, 2023, 9:22 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A 17-year-old boy is recovering from a gunshot wound following a shooting in the Ballpark neighborhood Sunday morning, and it’s not the first time gunfire has erupted in this area.

Salt Lake City police said shell casings were found outside a building on 1485 S. Major Street near Harvard Ave. It’s something that Rob Phillips says it’s not uncommon.

“The number of gunshots seems sort of outlandish,” Phillips said, commenting on security footage of the shooting.

Phillips is a co-owner at Roha Brewing Project, a brewery a few blocks away from the shooting. He said not uncommon to hear about crime in this neighborhood.

“I’ve seen the flashing lights of Roha in the background of a news story,” Phillips said. “We’re not in the best part of town currently, and we’re in that development phase where some violence and drug trafficking and prostitution happen still, and that’s a problem. We have to clean that up.”

The weekend shooting has Salt Lake City police in the area on high alert.

“One of our officers, who was working in the area, they were within a block or so, heard sounds of gunshots,” said Sgt. Mark Wian with the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Wian said the shooting likely involved multiple groups of people as multiple vehicles fled the scene.

“(The officer) immediately got into the area, saw there were cars taking off, but did the best that he could to get other officers to the scene and start working through that investigation,” he said.

Wian said shootings in the area are not common. But Phillips disagrees and says he has seen it before.

The crime scene sectioned off by crime scene tape. (KSL TV)

“A couple of violent acts have occurred in front of this building, and so I’d like the police to take a deeper dive into what’s going on in that property,” Phillips said.

On July 3, 2022, police investigated a shooting in the same spot. In 2020, Phillips said his business was hit by another shooting.

“There was some shooting that occurred across the street, and a stray bullet did come across through the window,” he said.

Phillips said most of the violence happens after hours, but it still worries him.

“I just have to trust in the leadership and the knowledge and skills that the police have to help us keep employees and keep my business moving forward,” Phillips said.

Wian said the crime in the area has actually gone down, reporting that city-wide crime has decreased by 16%.

“This isn’t like the Ballpark neighborhood. This isn’t reflective of the Ballpark neighborhood. This neighborhood is vibrant; it’s growing, as you can see,” Wian said.

Meanwhile, business owners in the area, like Phillips, hope their neighborhood will earn a more positive reputation.

“My business depends on this neighborhood growing and improving. I think it’s unfortunate that we do have this black eye,” he said.

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Ballpark business owner worries about increased shootings in the neighborhood