Police say public not at risk but neighbors are not so sure - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Police say public not at risk but neighbors are not so sure

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Many unanswered questions remain following a weekend of violence in a La Crosse neighborhood.

Five shooting incidents leave two people injured and police looking for suspects. The shootings happened in an area called the Washburn Neighborhood. It's bordered by Jackson Street on the South, Cass Street on the North, West Avenue to the East and the river on the West.

Police said the public isn't at risk but neighbors aren't so sure.

"It's a little nerve-racking, yes. I don't really know what's going on," Chris McKenney a Washburn resident said. 

"It's just getting too dangerous," McKenney's neighbor, Nicky Westlund agreed. McKenney said the scene outside of him home Saturday night was alarming. 

"I came out to get some heartburn medicine but I see the cops out there with guns pointed at everybody and that didn't make me feel any better," he said. Westlund said it might be time for her and her kids to move. 

"There are some really nice people who live in this neighborhood and I love the neighborhood and the people but as a mom I just can't have my kids here," she said.

The Washburn Neighborhood falls into District 11. Their council member, Audrey Kader said the city is working on improvements. 

"I think it would be foolish to say that there are not problems in the neighborhood. However, it would be different if we were ignoring the problems and saying that they are not there," Kader said. 

For the past 10 years the city has been buying homes to rebuild. Over the last two years, they have ramped up those efforts and the Washburn area is a major focus.

"We buy dilapidated properties, we tear them down and then we rebuild single family owner occupied homes," Caroline Nielsen with the City of La Crosse Planning Department said. 

Between Washburn and Powell-Hood-Hamilton neighborhoods, the city has acquired nearly 20 properties in the last two years. 

"One of the keys to a really strong neighborhood is neighbors who live in their homes, who are permanent residents who kind of keep and eye out on the neighborhood," Nielsen said. 

The new homes are meant to attract families to the area, hopefully reducing crime but not everyone sees it as a solution.

"It doesn't matter if you take down the houses and put up new houses you're still going to have the crime," Westlund said. 

Nielsen said the city has invested over $500,000 dollars into improving those neighborhoods. They plan to continue those efforts. 
    

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