Nashville, TN (WSMV) – The safety of Nashville’s entertainment district is being called into question again after a violent incident early Saturday morning on Broadway where police fired shots at a man who was waving a firearm, ramming cars and hit one officer with his car.
"I've seen Broadway in bad shape before, I will say it's probably at its worst right now,” says Steve Smith, owner of several downtown bars including Tootsie’s and Honky Tonk Central.
Smith bought Tootsie’s in 1992 and has been very vocal about his safety concerns downtown.
"We've had a lack of police help downtown and it's not the police department's fault, it's the administration's fault," says Smith who believes more officers walking the entertainment district would deter crime.
Pasquala Deshun Walls, 30, of Memphis, Tennessee, was charged Tuesday with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Walls was reported to be driving erratically and waving a handgun as he drove through downtown early Saturday morning.
Metro Nashville police officers tried to order Walls out of the car, but he began crossing traffic and ramming other cars to escape. When officers tried to stop him again, Walls hit an officer with his car. The officer fired two shots at Walls – who kept driving several blocks before jumping from the vehicle to run away. He was eventually caught.
“This probably happened before but police never noticed it,” says Smith.
Smith pointed to the years between 2007 and 2015 as being the time when Broadway was safe and clean – during Karl Dean’s two terms as mayor. In the last few years, Smith complains the entertainment district has become unsafe for visitors with aggressive panhandlers and out-of-town visitors bringing firearms into the streets.