AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Department is expecting to see crowds the Wednesday before Thanksgiving similar to what they typically see downtown on a busy weekend night.
“We move people around or hire overtime as needed to handle these larger events,” said Commander Jeff Greenwalt.
The spike in gun crimes has made some business owners leery about busy weekends, despite their excitement to bring more people in the door.
“I’ve been down here a long time,” said Marc Roppolo, who has run Roppolo’s Pizza downtown for more than 30 years. “I’ve seen a lot of crime throughout the downtown area. It got frightening.”
His spot is known for the late-night slice, and he geared his staff up for a line out the door Wednesday.
“A lot of the kids come in the day before Thanksgiving. What do they want to do? They want to go to Sixth Street,” he said.
Austin Police have confiscated 169 illegal guns from downtown in 2021.
“A lot of the activity that we’re seeing that leads to violence is not law abiding citizens carrying for their own safety,” said Commander Greenwalt. “It’s criminals involved in drug activity or gang activity or disputes with other people.”
In the past month, two people have been shot inside The Lodge on East Sixth Street; another person was shot on Sixth and Neches; and according to an affidavit, police had to use a stun gun on a man at Tellers who’s accused of threatening someone with a gun.
“While we have some success stories, there’s obviously work to be done,” said Greenwalt.
Work that Roppolo is willing to do as well.
“We’re gonna make it safer for everybody,” he said. “Trust me, I’ve been here 30+ years. I’m gonna be here and make sure people have a great time.”