The behavior of some downtown club owners and the problem of unruly patrons spilling into city streets at closing time has been an issue in Walnut Creek for some time.
So much so, in fact, that one downtown developer penned a letter to the Planning Commission predicting “significant detrimental impact” to local businesses in the event of a “tragic death due to late night alcohol related violence” in 2012.
Whether that prediction, proffered by area developer Brian Hirahara, comes true in the wake of a gun-related homicide just steps from the nexus of downtown nightclubs at Locust and Cypress streets remains to be seen. But it is clear that the murder of 38-year-old Courtney Brown, gunned down with three shots to the back as the downtown clubs were letting out just this past weekend, weighs heavily on the minds of many concerned about the prospect of violence in a part of town designed to be visited and enjoyed.
“As a downtown, we’ve obviously concerned and will be proactive in efforts to prevent another incident like this,” Hirahara said this week in response to our inquiry about his 2012 letter to the planning commission – then concerned by some high-profile street fights that had made their way out of downtown clubs and onto YouTube.
Of course, we’re not sure what proactive efforts will entail. Club and bar owners have had their own security and precautionary measures in place for some time, some instituted despite resistance from suburban patrons who found them draconian.
And then came 1:28 a.m. Saturday morning, with a 24-year-old Bay Point man shooting Courtney Brown in the back after the older man stepped out of Crogan’s Sports Bar and Grill. It is not known if the suspect waited for Brown outside the bar or had been with him inside, and at this point it is not know what prompted Griffin to pull out a gun and fire three shots into Brown’s back.
Griffin’s motive remains as unclear as what the city, club owners, and those with interests downtown can do to stop crime downtown, short of banning people from coming downtown in the first place. We don’t think that is likely, or feasible.
And we wait to see what measures will be taken to curtail a problem some say has already escaped from its bottle.