Mass Street employees express confidence in Lawrence after shooting
Jennifer Ybarra had a very gratifying afternoon Sunday at her Lucky Dog Outfitters and Pet Supply.
Ybarra, who owns the store with her daughter, Sarah Ybarra, said the day started badly when, on the advice of friends, she arrived at the store at 1027 Massachusetts St. to check for any damage to her storefront from Sunday’s early morning fatal shootings that claimed three lives near Lucky Dog. She arrived to find firefighters hosing down the street and sidewalks in front of her store to wash away blood.
“Just to see that blood and see where three young people lost their lives,” she said. “It was horrid. Truly horrid.”
It was the people of Lawrence who turned Ybarra’s day around.
“We had a great day for a Sunday,” she said. “We had so many people come in and say, ‘We came here today just to show we support downtown and the businesses.’ It really felt good.”
The outpouring of support made Ybarra optimistic about the downtown district, despite Sunday’s tragedy. She was still processing the shooting, she said, and has no solutions or suggestions about how to avoid such violence in the future. But she said she would welcome a community forum to discuss the issue.
“I would be open to that,” she said. “Lawrence is a community that finds solutions.”
A few doors to the north at Supersonic, employee Michael Stephenson was also processing the incident. As a musician, he plays at venues up and down Mass Street and is often on the street on weekends when bars close. He doesn’t think the shooting will dampen the vibrant Mass Street food and entertainment scene.
“I think people have to go out and have fun,” he said. “If you let people stop you from going out, the bad guys win.”
He also didn’t offer a solution, but said he would welcome a bigger police presence on busy weekends.
?”When I see officers walking the street, I like it,” he said.
Like Stephenson, Laramie Barnes has a daytime and late night presence on Mass Street. She’s a manager at Papa Keno’s Pizza, 1035 Massachusetts St., working mostly afternoons but closing at 11 p.m. on Fridays. She also works as a “runner” for bands playing at Lawrence venues, including the Granada Theater, 1020 Massachusetts St.
“I actually interceded in a conversation today when I heard two girls saying they were concerned about going to the Granada,” she said. “I told them the Granada uses an electronic wand to check people out and pats them down. They told me that made them feel better, but they were more scared about being on the street after the bars close.”
There have been other large fights as bars close on weekends on Mass Street since KU students returned in August, Barnes said. But citing the number of gun-related deaths in Douglas County the last four months, she thinks those fights or Sunday’s shootings reflect a changing Lawrence and not a different atmosphere downtown.
“I think it’s more the town,” she said. “There’s been nine people killed since June.”
Mallory Liss, a bartender at Harbour Lights, 1031 Massachusetts St., said she felt safe when closing the bar on weekends.
“The Harbour is a pretty laid-back place,” she said. “I’m not concerned about it. I still have a lot of faith in Lawrence. It’s a good city.”