People Disagree Over Safety in Walla Walla After Recent Gang Vio - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

People Disagree Over Safety in Walla Walla After Recent Gang Violence

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WALLA WALLA, WA. -- Police say gangs have been responsible for several shootings in Walla Walla recently. Just last weekend, an innocent man died when a gang member tried to shoot the man he was standing with outside a bar. 

Gang members have been responsible for 2 shootings in the last 3 weeks in Walla Walla. Last one happened here at the green lantern right by a residential neighborhood.

Stand outside the Green Lantern for 10 minutes and you'll see a steady stream of people going in and out. 

"I love it," Bobby Richard said. "It's a great place to go. Locals hang out here all the time, it's where we go. Local watering hole." 

Customers here call this place a local favorite. But over the weekend, it turned into a crime scene. A new police report says several known gang members targeted a former member when he left the gang. But they ended up shooting and killing 23-year-old Juan Martinez who was simply with the guy they were aiming for. Four people have been arrested in the shooting.

Bobby Richards lives right down the street from the Green Lantern. 

"I was shocked like really. Wow," Richards told us. "I read it Monday, I read about it."

Despite the violence so close to where he sleeps, Bobby isn't afraid. 

"Real close to home," Richards said. "But we still feel safe. We feel it's a good family town."

But I guess it depends on who you ask. 

"My neighborhood's not too good," Lester Shirley said. 

Less than a mile away. Lester Shirley doesn't feel safe where he lives. 

"It's kind of iffy to say the least," Shirley said. 

Earlier this month a gang member shot at one of these homes on Cherry Street during a drive-by. Lester says because of things like that, he's glad he has a camera, and of course his guard dog named Baby to protect him. 

"Do you feel safe living here?" we asked him.

"Oh somewhat. I wouldn't say totally but somewhat," Shirley told us. "I mean this happened just around the corner over here. How safe are we?"

While some think Walla Walla is still a safe place to live.

"We're here to start our family and we feel it's safe," Richard said. "And that's why we're here. If we didn't feel it was safe, we wouldn't be here."

The answer might just depend on who you talk to.

We reached out to the Walla Walla Police Department to be a part of this story. But they did not return our call. 
 

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