News 12 at 11 o'clock/Thursday, July 12th. 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Almost a week ago a shooting a couple of hours after the First Friday event downtown left six people injured. The event was over when that shooting happened, but one business owner says he's fed up with all the violence downtown. So he's taking his business and getting out.
"This happened on a First Friday about two or three years ago," said Jonathan Karow as he pointed out the bullet holes on the front of his downtown store. "Through the years it just seems like a losing battle. First Friday is not the only time there are problems down here."
Jonathan founded Rockbottom Music in Augusta years ago. Today, the business sits on the corner of 8th and Broad but Jonathan says that's about to change.
"It was not our original intention to leave downtown, but there's been so many things spanning over the years that have come to a head now that have made us just finally say this is it."
He's been thinking about moving for the past three years, but says last Friday's shooting that injured six people, the youngest just 14, made the final decision.
"After the sun goes down its a whole different story down here," he said. "It really is a hive of villainy down here after hours specifically on First Friday."
The Downtown Augusta Alliance says moving isn't the answer. "I don't know what the answer is, but if we can all put our heads together and all just sit down and stop blaming other people and just say 'OK this happened it is what it is we're gonna move forward' then we can reach a logical conclusion that can be great for the whole community," said President Ben Casella.
But Jonathan says he's tired of talking. "Downtown merchants have talked about banding together for years it's really a lot of talk," he said.
So instead he's taking action into his own hands and getting out of downtown Augusta.
Again, it's not just First Friday. Karow says one of his employees was robbed at gunpoint and he has parents who are nervous about bringing their children downtown for music lessons.
They've talked about the possibility of moving to North Augusta or West Augusta. They even talked about moving a few blocks up Broad Street toward artists row, which is where First Friday got its start.