Skip to Content

‘I thought it was a gunshot:’ Several businesses vandalized in downtown Asheville

By Hannah Mackenzie

Click here for updates on this story

    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Concerns are rising after several downtown Asheville businesses have been vandalized.

Plywood and tape now cover a broken windowpane at Empire Tattoo and Piercing on Patton Avenue. Greg Phipps, manager of the shop, says a man kicked his foot through the glass on Dec. 3 – in broad daylight.

“I thought it was a gunshot,” Phipps told News 13 on Dec. 8. “I ran out of my room, the guy who works up front ran out as well. He grabbed the guy and held him in place trying to keep him from running, you know? He had a syringe in his hand and was threatening, we thought, was threatening to stab the other guy.”

Phipps estimates the windowpane, which was covered with custom hand-painted murals, will cost several thousand dollars to replace.

“It’s a huge hole, and it spiderwebbed all the way up through there,” Phipps said. “We taped it to keep it from falling down until the glass guys can come and remove it.”

According to Phipps, the suspect was arrested, but the crime isn’t uncommon – it’s the second time the tattoo shop has been hit in a four-month span.

Surrounding businesses have been targeted, too. One week prior, Blue Dream Curry House was broken into, said bartender and server Jonathan Cerrud.

“They threw a brick through this window,” Cerrud said. “Smashed the whole bit we even had our logo on the window. It was all over the place.”

According to Cerrud, the suspect stole some change and a bottle of vodka.

Crime is a growing concern, said Shelia Surrett. Surrett, a downtown Asheville native, said she no longer leaves the house without pepper spray. Surrett said drugs, homeless camps and trash are taking over the Pritchard Park area – yet again.

“What’s happening is not good for our city, and if we don’t put a stop to it, it’s going to get worse,” Surrett said. “I shouldn’t have to feel like at 7:30 in the morning, on my own, that I can’t walk my dog in downtown Asheville.”

News 13 reached out to the city for comment. Greg Shuler, director of public works, stated:

“The City of Asheville continues to focus on cleanliness in the central business district (CBD) with our own employee efforts as well as utilizing contractors. Cleaning occurs both day and night in the CBD. Cleanliness in an urban setting is challenging and takes the city and our community to make a positive difference.

The Public Works department is pleased to share that more help is on the way. The city is utilizing $500,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address community cleanliness throughout the city to amplify ongoing efforts.

Contract work is projected to start around February 2023. Keeping our community clean and safe is a priority for our council and employees. We live in a beautiful place and we want to do our part to keep it clean and green.”

Tackling trash is one aspect, but Surrett said enforcement is another.

“Walking down the street, seeing these people, I don’t feel safe. Screaming, yelling, taking their clothes off it’s getting out of hand,” Surrett said. “We’ve got a [district attorney] who, when these people get arrested, dismisses their charges, puts them right back on the street and they’re doing the same crime over and over.”

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content