WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY-TV) -- The city says its main goal is to make downtown safe once again for those who visit. Now many who come here say its gotten so bad that the have to an extra eye out. Dale Saunders not only works downtown but lives there as well. Familiar with the area, he never expected to go though an event like he did Friday night.
"I was walking from a friend's house on Second Street," Saunders told us. "In between Grace I was on the phone and I heard some footsteps behind me so I turned and looked around. It was two guys. One punched me in the face, held me by the shirt and held a gun to my head. He told me if I didn't give him everything I had, he was going to shoot me."
The men made off with Saunders's money and cell phone. He says what happens makes him mad - and scares him - knowing this happened in an area where so many people visit.
"Thats behind all of this," said Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O'Grady. "We want a clean and safe environment downtown."
The city says it's taken note of the dangers downtown - and that's the reason why it wants to approve new guidelines for ABC permits in the Central Business District. Proposed guidelines include not letting anyone under 21 in a nightclub after 11:00 pm and requiring alcohol be served in plastic or paper cups after 11 p.m.
O'Grady says they're key to making sure visitors leave downtown safely.
"When they get out of downtown they'll be out of any danger at all, and its that crowd that big crowd of often intoxicated patrons, they're targets for bad boys and thats what brings the bad guys down here its target rich for them," said O'Grady. But when we asked O'Grady if he thought a curfew or paper cups would keep people from getting mugged - he would only say that it would be discussed at City Council Tuesday
So while the city attempts to control downtown businesses in order to keep people safe, there are some like Saunders who say thats not the right way to go about it. "The rules they're trying to pass in the bars, like the plastic and stuff does nothing outside of a bar," said Saunders. "I think like I said it comes down to law enforcement keeping an eye on people, as far as the ones who are walking, I work to 3:00 am sometimes when I leave I see no one, I see officers at 2:30 am, but after that I see no one anywhere."
The recommendations are expected to be approved at tomorrow's City Council meeting. O'Grady says its just one of the first steps to making downtown safe once again.