Deputies, mayor say downtown is still safe despite occasional violence

Law enforcement and city officials say downtown Augusta is still safe despite Friday morning's stabbings. (WRDW-TV)
Law enforcement and city officials say downtown Augusta is still safe despite Friday morning's stabbings. (WRDW-TV)
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News 12 First at Five / Friday, Nov. 30, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The stabbing happened just a block away from the Augusta Common, where they'll flip the switch on the Christmas tree Saturday night.

On Friday, the city is getting ready for the crowds and both the Sheriff's Office and the mayor are weighing in on the violence. They're encouraging families, despite this stabbing, and saying downtown Augusta is still safe.

City employees worked to wash away the blood Friday after a violent night on Broad Street. Investigators say three people were stabbed in an argument while leaving Club Rehab just after 2 a.m.

"You mix alcohol with a good time, and somebody's going to get aggravated and angry and cause trouble," explained Cpt. Gerald Metzler with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

In less than 24 hours, thousands will pack downtown just a block away from the violence for the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting.

Mayor Copenhaver says there's no danger.

"Katie, none whatsoever. It happened about 2 a.m., it was a very late night incident and an isolated incident," Copenhaver said.

"There's not very much good happening at 2 o'clock in the morning anywhere," Metzler said.

Planners expect families will be leaving downtown well before the bars and club crowds move in.

"We have about 10,000 people come downtown. We have not had any incidents in the past six years we've been doing it, so I expect another safe event," Copenhaver said.

The Sheriff's Office is planning for extra patrols this weekend but say this type of violence -- the kind in the middle of the night -- should not scare families away from downtown.

"Overall, the streets downtown are safe. People who go downtown, visit downtown are safe," Metzler said.

"The parade is during the day. The light-up is actually early in the evening. Downtown is very safe; this is a family-friendly event," Copenhaver said.

This isn't the first violent case on the same stretch of Broad Street, but similar to a First Friday shooting over the summer, it's being called an unfortunate -- but isolated -- crime.

"If you have family, of course, you want to be there early in the evening. You don't want to be there at 2 o'clock in the morning, but if you've got a family, you're not going to be there at 2 o'clock in the morning," Metzler said.

The stabbing is still under investigation by the Sheriff's Office. We're told that while the injuries were serious, they were not life threatening.

The big show will go on Saturday for the Augusta Christmas Light-Up Spectacular. Events get started around noon at the Augusta Common. The parade starts at 2 p.m. and that big tree will be lit just after 6 p.m.

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