In recent months, two shootings in Aggieville have led to one death and several injured. The Riley County Police Department, Aggieville and Fort Riley are working together to create proactive solutions to ensure these tragedies do not become a trend.
Dennis Cook, director of the Aggieville Business Association, said the two shootings occurred within 60 days of each other. He said the general consensus is these shootings were isolated events. However, there have been talks about taking different safety measures in light of the shootings.
Since the shootings involved Fort Riley personnel, Cook said he has talked to Fort Riley and the Riley County Police Department about reimplementing courtesy patrols.
“I had had conversations with the public affairs officer, the chief of staff and the commanding general of Fort Riley,” Cook said. “One of the conversations we have had is what they call courtesy patrols. So when you are down [in Aggieville] on Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening, you may see military officers walking around with RCPD.”
Cook said this could be effective because someone in the military might not want to talk to RCPD but might feel comfortable talking to another Fort Riley soldier.
Aaron Wintermote, public information officer for the Riley County Police Department, said courtesy patrols took place in the past. The military personnel who join RCPD do so in their free time. However, he said RCPD had already had a heavier police presence in Aggieville in light of the shootings.
“In light of the recent shootings, we have had more staff down there just to have a heavier presence and make sure things go smoothly to not have another instance like that,” Wintermote said.
Chandler Mixon, senior in journalism and a bouncer at Mojos Beach Bar, said he saw one of the shootings happen five to seven feet away from him at Tate’s.
“I didn’t work for a couple of weeks [after],” Mixon said. “I didn’t really want to be in the ‘Ville. I am more jumpy to louder noises now and I was already jumpy, so that put me at 10.”
Mixon said he still thinks Aggieville is a safe place overall, and that it is an individual issue.
“I do not think Aggieville as a whole can do anything to prevent these kinds of incidents,” Mixon said. “The cops out there do their jobs great. I know a lot of them by first and last name, and they are always out in the bars saying, ‘Hey do you need help with anything?’ They are always out checking on us and everything.”
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Some bars take their own safety precautions against gun violence, such as having metal detectors at the bar. However, Cook said he neither recommends businesses do it nor discourages them from doing it.
“I have heard people who would never carry a gun who have told me that they wouldn’t go in a place with a metal detector because they feel like it is an invasion of privacy. It makes them feel more nervous,” Cook said. “I have had other people tell me that is exactly where I would go because I would feel safer inside.”
Wintermote said the best solution is not to carry a gun when drinking.
“I do not think this is a Fort Riley or Aggieville problem,” Wintermote said. “I think we have had some isolated incidents with individuals. A bigger solution is not to bring guns to Aggieville. Weapons and drinking are not a good combination most of the time and there is no real need to have a weapon in Aggieville at a bar while you are drinking. As we have seen, that can lead to some terrible things happening.”
Cook said he has also engaged with Kansas State in talks about the shootings because Aggieville and the university are closely tied together.
“I have reached out to the university to have an open dialogue with the chief of staff of the new president and talking with him and keeping that door open for us to talk about anything,” Cook said.
More information about the recent shootings or updates on safety precautions in Aggieville is available by contacting the Riley County Police Department or the Aggieville Business Association.
Students affected by the shootings are encouraged to reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services at 785-532-6927 or the Office of Student Life at 785-532-6432.