DALLAS - Dallas police explained why it took nearly half an hour to stop a car stunting street show that shut down an entire South Dallas intersection.
Neighbors and nearby business owners say it's one symptom of a much larger crime problem. They say violent crime is their greatest concern. Some of the older residents said they feel like hostages in their own homes.
The car stunting show is the latest example of what some believe is a critical problem with Dallas police response times. On the night of May 16, the dangerous stunts took over the intersection of Malcolm X and Elsie Faye Heggins Street in South Dallas for nearly half an hour before police broke it up.
During a press conference Wednesday morning, the Dallas Police Southeast Patrol commander tried to explain why it took so long.
"Active shooter calls, an officer assist and other priority calls holding at the time,” said Deputy Chief Vernon Hale.
Crowd control at the intersection has been a problem on weekends. But after seeing the video, Hale vowed to increase patrols.
"We have not historically had issues in the area during the week, and this was Tuesday night. Therefore, congestion was not expected,” the deputy chief said. “But we will continue to have supervisors monitor that area on a nightly basis while we provide those extra patrols."
Born and raised in South Dallas, business owner Antong Lucky wants so see and live in a safer South Dallas.
“In the last week or so, we've been getting a lot of attention. So I'm optimistic,” he said. “It shouldn't be that the residents and the business owners get to suffer and be the victims of crime because we don't have enough cops."
A week and a half ago, 26-year-old Dareon Merchant was shot and killed by a stray bullet as he sat in his car at the very same intersection where the street stunting played out. Lucky says the repeat problem of large crowds only invites trouble.
"When I walk out of my office every day and I see hundreds of people hanging out, guns drawn, when I see shootings happing every day,” Lucky said.
During our conversation with Lucky, Dallas police drove by responding to an active shooter call just blocks away. It turned out to be a false alarm.
But the South Dallas neighborhood has already been identified as a high crime area by Dallas police, which is why so many are wondering how a loud and disruptive incident didn't get shut down more quickly.
"This is actually my lowest volume part-one crimes of all of them,” Hale said. “So it is not ‘lawless’ as I've heard characterized in the media. At all.”
"If that's not lawlessness, then I don't know what is,” Lucky said.
Deputy Chief Hale says they had already increased patrols on the weekends when most of the large groups gather by changing schedules and bringing in extra officers on overtime to meet the needs.
The president of the Dallas Police Association says he wants to give the deputy chief some time to make some changes before speaking out on the matter.
Lucky says he hopes to have the community raise enough money to be able to hire officers of their own to work in the neighborhood much like Deep Ellum does.