Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said Monday morning she is “very concerned” about the hail of gunfire uptown Saturday night, but said “it’s too early to even talk about whether it’s connected to the CIAA tournament.”
Thirty minutes before the CIAA men’s championship game, as many as 100 shots were reportedly fired at 6:30 p.m. along the 600 block of North Caldwell Street, an area filled with residential buildings. No one was injured.
Several national lifestyle websites – including The Source, XXL, Complex and BET – reported that one of the targets was a rapper who goes by the stage name Young Dolph. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police declined to say whether he was in fact involved.
It was the fourth consecutive year the weeklong tournament has been marred by gunfire.
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The first incident came in 2014, when a man and a woman were both shot in the leg during a party at the Sheraton Hotel featuring Sean “Diddy” Combs.
The CIAA has three years left on its six-year contract to keep the tournament in Charlotte.
The CIAA received $2 million from taxpayers this year, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. The tournament is the largest annual event the city holds, according to the CRVA.
The CRVA gave the organization $1.44 million from hotel/motel taxes and other tourism dollars. The city gave the CIAA $300,000 and the county gave $260,000. Both the city and county money came from their general fund, which can be used for things such as schools and roads.
In an interview, Roberts was asked whether the city should reconsider hosting the tournament in future years if the gunfire is linked to CIAA events or visitors.
“I think it’s too early to make a judgment like that,” Roberts said. “We don’t know anything about the incident. I don’t have any information. I think it’s too soon.”
She said she will be meeting with CMPD chief Kerr Putney and the CRVA to get more information about what happened in First Ward. She said the city will “work to make sure that whoever is responsible is held accountable.”
Roberts, a Democrat, said people were in “positive spirits” during the last weekend of the tournament.
“I walked around uptown both Friday and Saturday nights, around the arena, around College Street,” she said. “I was welcoming people to Charlotte. People were in positive spits. It was very friendly.”
She added, “It’s prudent to have a complete picture before we come to any kind of conclusion.”
“Anytime there is gun fire in any part of the city it's concerning,” Roberts said.
She said she would be talking with the police chief about the resources needed to keep people safe.
Last year, three men in town for the CIAA tournament were arrested after they fired dozens of bullets into two vehicles and an uptown hotel and were found in possession of an AK-47.
No one was reported injured in that incident, which happened around 4:40 a.m. near the Hyatt Place hotel. The bullets hit a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and a red SUV parked behind it in front of the hotel lobby. Two of the three men charged in the case were from Memphis and the third was from Elgin, S.C.
In 2015, a woman was shot in the head but not seriously injured at the Label nightclub during tournament weekend. And two people were stabbed at the Oasis Tent on College Street. One man was charged in that stabbing.
After the 2016 shooting, the CRVA and the CIAA said they would conduct a security review of the tournament, with a focus on non-sanctioned events.
Laura White of the CRVA said the tourism authority held meetings with promoters, hotel and restaurant owners about how to secure their events. CMPD and Alcohol Law Enforcement officials also attended.
She said the meeting helped the two groups better connect.
Republican City Council member Kenny Smith, who is considering running for mayor against Roberts, said he doesn’t “want to make a knee jerk reaction” about the tournament’s future.
“One issue is next year’s tournament, and the other issue is the soon-to-be negotiations about whether the CIAA stays in Charlotte,” he said.
He said “tourism dollars” are a premium but said public safety is paramount.
In a separate incident during this year’s tournament, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer and an N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement officer were hospitalized with minor injuries just after midnight Sunday morning, after being struck by a suspect fleeing the scene of an investigation at North Caldwell and Sixth streets in uptown, CMPD officials said.