Roughly 100 people packed the parking lot of Sheldrake Coffee Roasting in Belmont Shore Thursday morning where Long Beach city officials and the chief of police addressed concerns about crime after two people were killed in the span of two weeks along Second Street.

During the meeting, community members pointed out over-serving at bars, fights, break-ins, restaurants acting as nightclubs and homelessness as the top concerns contributing to violence and blight. They called for the city to enforce business licensing rules more strictly, add police patrols and address homelessness.

“What can we really do?” one person from the crowd asked. “Where can the real change happen?”

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Councilmember Kristina Duggan, who represents the 3rd District, which includes Belmont Shore, set up the meeting Thursday after an off-duty city employee and father of two was shot to death during a fight that broke out along Second Street’s popular entertainment district on Feb. 18.

The meeting was meant to be small and allow community members to interact with a police commander responsible for their division, but before the meeting could happen, another high-profile crime unnerved the area.

On March 3, a 20-year-old was stabbed to death during a fight inside Dave’s Hot Chicken. That resulted in an overflow meeting at 10 a.m. on a Thursday, with another gathering promised.

Community members listen at a meeting at Sheldrake Coffee Roasting in Belmont Shore on March 7, 2024. Photo by Kat Schuster.

“I am saddened and angered by the major crimes that have happened in Belmont Shore that have happened over the last couple of weeks, we all are,” Duggan told the crowd. “I’ve lived here for 25 years. I’m on Second Street almost daily; this is new but this will not be tolerated.”

Duggan said she has been working over the past few weeks with businesses and city departments to make the neighborhood safer. She commended the police department for quickly identifying and taking the two suspected killers into custody.

“The message needs to be clear: People can’t come into our community from different cities and commit crimes and get away with it,” Duggan said. “Some people don’t like it when I say things like that, but this is our community, and people need to know they will be caught if they commit crimes in our neighborhood.”

Long Beach Chief of Police Wally Hebeish emphasized that the LBPD’s mission is to reduce crime and enhance safety using all their available resources.

But he said it goes “beyond just the police department” and a “reactive” approach to crime and safety.

“It is a shared responsibility, not only with the police department but with all of you, with our business partners, with our residential communities,” Hebeish said. “We’re all committed to making sure Long Beach is safe.”

He said that over the next few weeks, community members can expect to see a bigger police presence in the area, businesses being inspected, more traffic enforcement, and volunteers connecting with businesses and handing out resources on how to better address crime.

These efforts, Hebeish said, will let people know that “if you come into our community and victimize our community, you will be held accountable.”

Some people during the meeting commended authorities for their quick response. Some people, however, were unconvinced enough was being done.

Following the meeting, Andrew Noble, a resident of the area for the last 52 years, said he attended the meeting after he was violently attacked two months ago while riding his bicycle along the beach. Despite video and a witness to the attack, nobody was ever arrested, he said, adding that he still lives in fear of running into his attacker again.

“When they said they’re going after people that victimize people here, it kind of contradicts that,” Noble said.

Despite asking questions during the meeting, he said he felt Duggan or Hebeish didn’t really give him the answer he was looking for.

While Noble has started riding his bike again recently, he said he’s still stuck with medical bills and may require surgery soon. Noble said that since the attack, he doesn’t go out at night anymore.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said. “I don’t feel protected.”