'We shouldn't live in fear': Gun violence becoming the norm downtown

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 19:14:06-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Ricardo Franklin is helping with one of the better tasks that comes with his job as Community Outreach Coordinator with the Fayette County Sheriff’s office.

“Getting out and interacting with the public, I really like that part of it,” he said after helping load 440 boxes of food for community members in need. It’s part of the Sheriff’s work with God’s Pantry to help alleviate food insecurity across Lexington. The need for such has increased since the pandemic began 16 months ago.

The other part of Franklin’s job, which he inherited from his mother Anita, who passed away last year, is not as rewarding.

“I think that’s where we come to the issue that gun violence is taking over the community in Lexington,” he said.

The city is on pace to smash the record it set a year ago for gun-related homicides. A double shooting over the weekend near the 5/3 Pavilion is what had people in the area talking today.

“I still think the city of Lexington is safe,” said Nate Polly, who owns Nate’s Coffee on the pavilion. His door is just next to the Horse and Jockey, whose entrance was as close as it gets to this weekend’s shootings.

Mr. Polly said he isn’t concerned about the uptick in violence in the area (this vicinity has seen multiple shootings in recent months).

More businesses have opened or re-opened since restrictions were lifted and that could be having an impact on the increase in violence.

Nearby at the Stagger Inn, a couple of LEX 18 staff members were asked to show their beltlines while being lightly patted down before entering over the weekend. Ensuring safety for everyone isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a sign of the times.

“We should be able to enjoy downtown with friends, and family without living in fear of gun violence,” Franklin said.

Franklin would know. He lost his brother Antonio to a senseless act of gun violence a few years ago. It’s why he wanted to continue the work his mother began with the Sheriff’s office.

“I remember the exact feelings I had when I was in that situation,” Franklin said, before offering to help anyone who is, or sadly, might find themselves in a similar situation.

As Lexington’s downtown area becomes more of a late-night destination, we might just have to cope with - if not accept - the increase in violence as you might have in other large cities.

“There’s a lot of new places opening,” said Polly. “I definitely want to come out, come down and see the news things, try the new food and be out and about,” he continued.

But all of that is coming with a cost, in recent months.

“We need to come together and unite. We shouldn’t live in fear,” Franklin reiterated.