Police ramp up presence off-Grounds amid recent crime increase
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) says crime in Charlottesville is up significantly this year, and University of Virginia students say they have noticed it within the university community.
Just this past weekend, a woman was shot inside the popular college bar, Boylan Heights. The woman, who is expected to recover, was merely a bystander. Police have already arrested 22-year-old Taylor Ryan Woodson as a suspect in connection to the shooting.
It's not the only recent incident of gun violence.
During the summer, a bullet burst through a UVA student's apartment on West Main Street. There was also an incident of shots fired on Elliewood Avenue outside a college bar.
"I would definitely say there have been more incidents lately, which is really scary," said UVA third-year Anjali Amazigo.
This ties into a trend affecting the city, in which crime is increasing in Charlottesville overall. CPD says this year, there have been more than 250 gun-related incidents as of Sept. 1, which is potentially double what it was last year.
"Where we're seeing the majority of these are in our public housing areas and the surrounding streets in our public housing areas," said Major Jim Mooney, CPD's assistant chief of police.
Though it's happening on city-owned property, UVA students are seeing the gun violence first-hand because it's happening where students still live and socialize.
"Now coming into my third year, it's a bit strange to have to like fear even more so for my safety than normal going to things, like bars and like different places on the Corner, and stuff like that," Amazigo said.
UVA Police spokesperson Ben Rexrode says there has been an uptick in gun violence in the past couple of weeks in areas right off-Grounds.
President Jim Ryan recently sent a message to the UVA community, saying in part: "University leaders and public safety officials are aware of this trend, and we are devoting additional resources to keep members of this community safe. For years, the University Police Department (UPD) has worked cooperatively with their counterparts in Charlottesville to patrol areas of the city near UVA Grounds together."
Mooney says the police department has been increasing its presence on the Corner during peak hours, adding more UVA officers, CPD officers, and UVA ambassadors. He adds that the presence is usually deterrent enough to avoid a lot of problems.
"The citizens of Charlottesville need to feel safe, and that's part of our job," he said. "We're going to do whatever necessary within our means to address safety."
Meanwhile, UVA continues to notify students about crime right outside of school property through an alert system.
"When students and community members are aware that these incidents are occurring, it draws more awareness to it and then therefore when something is occurring, something doesn't seem right, they're more apt to communicate with police or report things it to police," Rexrode said.