DALLAS — The streets in Deep Ellum were busy with its daily lunch crowd, tourists, and neighbors walking about on Friday afternoon. It’s the type of daytime energy locals have become used to.
It’s the type of cultural vibe and energy that typically draws diverse crowds to the Dallas entertainment district.
“I love coming down here to have fun. It always is pretty lively,” said Julissa Sanchez as she waited outside a pizza shop with her friend.
However, the fun vibe was a stark contrast from the chaos that rang out in the overnight hours near Elm and Crowdus Street.
Gunshots rang out early Friday morning. Two people were killed, and three others were hurt in the crossfire. It’s the type of disruption some residents are getting tired of seeing in the area.
“Whenever I come down here, it’s usually in the daytime. I feel safe walking around, by myself,” said Taylor Donnelson.
Safety and security have long been issues neighbors and business owners have been proactively working to address in the Deep Ellum area.
The Deep Ellum Foundation recently opened a public safety office on Main Street. From it, a security team can monitor dozens of surveillance cameras in the area throughout the day.
That system, in addition to strategic planning and deployment, is what helped with the quick response during Friday morning’s shooting and other recent violent episodes.
“I feel like this stuff’s going on all the time now. I just moved here from Austin. That stuff goes on all the time on 6th Street, and it makes me not want to go down there anymore,” Donnelson explained.
The Deep Ellum Foundation has been working closely with public safety partners. The group just released a community safety plan this week.
The plan includes deploying special police forces for crowd and traffic control, heightened foot patrols and fixed police posts in hot spots, and looking into youth curfews for the area, as summer approaches, among other things.
“Well, it’s an upbeat neighborhood during the day. But at nighttime it’s just dark,” said Sean Rodriguez. He’s an entrepreneur and stylist who’s lived in Deep Ellum nearly six years.
Unfortunately, the 34-year-old said recent crime is forcing him to move out of the community.
“It started off pretty good. But over the years, it’s been a lot of car break ins, and a lot of violence. So it’s time to get out of there,” Rodriguez explained.
Three Links Bar Manager Evan Johnson has been playing music and bartending in Deep Ellum for two decades.
He heard the gunfire and came out of the bar to see police and paramedics working to save the victims.
"It wasn't a pretty sight," Johnson said. "We saw them putting sheets over the bodies."
Johnson said, despite security upgrades, he's shocked violence keeps showing up.
"We have to figure out a way to work together to make this place safe, profitable, and fun. Nobody wants to come down here and be afraid of bodily harm."
As neighbors and stakeholders continue working to be vigilant about plans and protocols for security in Deep Ellum, they said public safety remains top of mind.
“We are a community that welcomes all comers but we do not welcome violence,” Deep Ellum Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Keller Hudiburg said in a statement.
To learn more about the newly released Deep Ellum Community Safety Plan, click here.