ORLANDO, Fla. – The city of Orlando is expanding controlled entry points into the downtown area on the weekends following a shooting that injured seven people early Sunday.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer on Monday said the city will implement the access point plan, typically used during holiday events to limit how people can enter the downtown area, on Fridays and Saturdays to help curb violence. The access points will be stationed by police and K-9s that can detect if a person has a weapon.
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People passing through would still have to voluntarily agree to a weapons check unless a gun is visible. But Dyer said if the person refuses to go through the access point, they will not be allowed downtown.
“If I could make it a weapons-free zone, I would do that,” said Dyer, adding that people with a concealed weapons permit cannot be stopped from carrying a weapon in the area.
The access points would be funded with money from the Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency and not regular Orlando taxes.
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“The controlled entry points are used around Orange Avenue’s normal weekend closure locations (which include Orange Avenue from Washington Avenue to Pine Street),” a spokesperson for Dyer said in an email. “They include six pedestrian checkpoints and require all guests and employees to go through screenings for the detection of firearms.”
Dyer said many of the recent violent fights and shootings in the downtown area seemed to occur after 1 p.m.
“What we’re seeing occurring in our downtown is that there are people that are coming and simply lingering and creating a festival-like atmosphere, not even going into the bars,” he said. “... There’s a mix of these interlopers with people that are coming out of the bars.”
Dyer added there are no plans in place to curb bar hours or expand them, which some bar owners have asked for. However, Dyer said he thinks there are “too many” bars in the downtown area.
Dyer told reporters Monday that Orlando Police have been able to gain access to search inside vehicles by having officers stand at the entrances of parking garages. The mayor said that if an officer cites a driving infraction, police are able to search their vehicle.
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Concealed weapon permit holder Chris Burns criticized the policies as infringing second-amendment rights and putting people at risk.
“What’s wrong is when people try to strip us from our freedoms of carrying firearms because you are going to want people like me to defend you,” Chris Burns said. “If I’m coming through, and I can show you I have a concealed carry permit, and you let me go through, you are going to want me around.”
The City of Orlando said 15 businesses downtown are working with the city to use grant money to upgrade their video surveillance systems.
Jordan Robinson was walking downtown when he told News 6 people should be able to feel safe downtown.
“Nobody should just feel unsafe if they are just trying to go out. Whether they are going out to dinner or go clubbing. Wherever they are going to do, even just driving,” Robinson said.
Dyer said the city aims to have the access points set up this Friday, but if not, they will be in place by next weekend. A map of the access points will also be released.
The city updated a downtown Orlando security plan Wednesday and told News 6 that it will be put into place starting Friday.
This comes after a shooter opened fire on a crowd early Sunday near South Orange Avenue and Wall Street Plaza, injuring seven people. As of Monday, the Orlando Police Department said they are still looking for the shooter and are asking for witnesses to come forward by calling 911 or contacting Crimeline to provide an anonymous tip by texting or dialing **8477(TIPS).
We continue urging our community members who were in the area of Wall St & Orange Ave at approx. 2 am on 7/31 to come forward w/ information about this incident.— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) August 1, 2022
Follow the link👇to submit any photos/videos you may have that can help our investigators.https://t.co/sdT9VW31Ci
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