Alexandria mayor addresses recent shooting, safety for RiverFest this weekend

Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy discussed the April 30 incident, as well as safety during Alex River Fete during a video posted to the City’s social media accounts on May 1.

“I think everybody needs to be assured of some things, but also people need to be aware of things that are happening and we’re going to try to unbundle yesterday’s events downtown as much as we can,” said Mayor Roy. 

The Alexandria Police Department worked a shooting in downtown Alexandria on April 30, adjacent to the mini Park. The shooting followed a party that had been held on private property and it was on the rooftop of some private property that was rented. No matter if it was public or private, people at a party are subject to certain rules that includes the provision or sale of alcohol. 

“Even if you’re renting the convention hall here at City Hall or a hotel ballroom, or in this case outside property for the purpose of an outside day party, there are rules of engagement,” Roy added. “There are safety rules about occupancy. There are rules about alcohol and the sale of alcohol. There are of course rules about whether those events can contribute to the delinquency of minors if minors are present where alcohol is being sold or used. There’s a host of things that go into that.”

The event downtown spilled over after it allegedly was supposed to be over into an after party, at which time perhaps another venue was going to be used. It appears from all of the investigations so far that the event was advertised and marketed on social media, that there was a price involved in attending the event, and that brings it under the jurisdiction of several aspects of city government.

Mayor Roy said the City took extra precautions and that the Alexandria Police Department looked at the event.

“I feel confident those guys went out and did their job but I need to be very candid with you at home,” he said. “I believe what I know today forces me to make some decisions that I think would avoid this particular situation or at least greatly decrease the chance of this particular problem happening again. We need to make sure that when events are promoted by local promoters or promoters from outside of even the state of Louisiana that we’re not taking every precaution we can to ensure that if alcohol is involved or the occupancy is going to be a large number, more perhaps than a facility or

an area should hold, we need to be there doing something. Our guys work but in a split second shots were fired and somebody was killed so at home you’re going to say well why and how and what was the basis.” 

Mayor Roy went on to share some generalities. The City is seeing seeing youth and youthful violence. A lot of this violence is not what the public may think of as the typical drug driven violence, although that can have a part or it being about drug activity or some other things. A lot of this violence stems from or is caused by young folks having a problem with someone else over everything from girlfriends to “status crimes” (how someone is perceived in the community), getting in a beef with somebody on social media, or making a threat if bad things are going to happen and then carrying that out. 

Mayor Roy went on to talk about Alex RiverFet specifically.

“I think people need to understand what happened when they make decisions and think about being informed about what to do,” he explained. “This event that occurred can be avoided in the future by something that I’m going to take action and do in the form of executive order action about how you can promote and hold events downtown where there are lots of people and alcohols involved. Without the intelligence gathering and the things we need to do to be safe we are seeing more and more than even when places are rented in a traditional way, rules aren’t necessarily followed on the amount of people allowed in a space. Then fire department has to be called out on occupancy, or fights break out. We’ve got to do better to ensure those promoting events, those hosting events and us in government are making sure protection is in place for those events.”

It isn’t about stopping events. It’s about having them be hosted properly, be marketed properly, and live up to what anyone would expect: that they’re going to go somewhere and they’re going to get to go home from that event.

City Hall was greatly affected by the April 30 incident. Obviously anybody would be on edge who works in City Hall to think about perhaps this happening at some other point in the day, even on a Sunday; perhaps it happening during the week and what could have been and as this comes out later I think people will see just how much it is close to home and we were affected by this.

There will be a large Alexandria Police Department presence at RiverFest. There will be partners and sister agencies present. The City is going to make sure that the public sees and feels safe at what is absolutely a family-oriented festival.

To ensure that the unsafe situation that occurred April 30 has way less a chance of occurring again, the City is taking those steps and will continue to. In terms of how to respond, there are intermediate steps and there are longer term steps that have to do with interventions to make from different teams that go out and look at different crimes, and removing guns 

Immediately, regulatory actions will be taken about using the downtown for events. The City will only promote safe ones and if organizers can’t guarantee their event is safe or if they end up doing things that are reckless that don’t create an atmosphere of safety, those events aren’t going to be happening downtown any longer.

“I think that it’s fair to say that judging the event yesterday, no matter how unfortunate, I don’t think any promoter or planner would want that to happen or think it is, of course not, but there are things you have to do if you’re going to be promoting and doing those kind of events that have to ensure a much larger degree of safety,” Mayor Roy concluded. “It’s your community you you gotta own and live in your community and coming to the Alex RiverFest is part of that. This is our quality of life. This is about not letting anyone take that from us. We’re going to do our job to keep you safe.”