Russell neighborhood residents ask if economic development will reduce gun violence

At a time when hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into Russell, business owners believe that the best way to combat crime may be through economic growt
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The peace of a late summer afternoon was broken by gun violence in the Russell neighborhood.

A double homicide Saturday afternoon became the latest headline in three years of triple-digit Louisville homicides.

The victims were identified as 26-year-old Edward Lamont Smith and 24-year-old Alexis McCrary, both from Louisville.

This time, it hit close to home for business owner Aaron Williams.

”I know the family of the victims,” Williams said “And so it’s tough. It’s tough to see.”

In March, Williams opened Chicago Jerk Tacos less than three blocks from where the shootings happened.

More than making a living, Williams said he is also trying to make a difference.

”I have a lot of the youth coming by with their parents when they’re picking up their food,” Williams said. “And I have conversations with them and I think that it’s important for them to see business owners in their community that look like them. It’s something different to strive for.”

At a time when hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into Russell, business owners believe that the best way to combat crime may be through economic growth.

AMPED Executive Director Dave Christopher founded a business incubator to help local start-ups.

”The idea of building up a community with strong economic backbone will decrease some of that crime,” Christopher said. “If you can bring more investment in the community and more opportunity to the community, then that crime goes down.”

A double homicide suggests there is a lot of work to do.