LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Of the more than 2,600 people who took our poll, 58 percent say the threat of violence downtown for Thunder and other Derby Festival events will keep them at home.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s request for people to leave their guns at home for Thunder isn’t sitting well with a lot of people.
It was an announcement that ruffled a lot of feathers; the request for people to leave guns at home whether they have a permit or not.
Navy veteran Phil Crea never leaves home without his gun, “Yes, always, I have it right here.”
He calls Mayor Fischer’s request “ridiculous.”
“I think it’s my job to protect myself and my family because it might not be enough time to dial 911 and wait an hour,” he said.
But, that’s all it is, a request. Police cannot make people leave their legal guns at home.
“People have a constitutional right to carry a gun, open carry or conceal and carry with a permit, so we start with that. But, the police chief both here in Louisville and over in Southern Indiana and myself say, you have the right, but it’s probably not a good idea,” Mayor Fischer said.
There’s some worry that after the violence downtown a couple weeks ago, people may try to take matters into their own hands at the first sign of trouble.
“I guess my biggest concern is, I hope people don’t come down here looking for trouble,” Heather Peters, who is planning on bringing her kids to Thunder, said.
“Vigilante justice is illegal,” explained LMPD spokesman Phil Russell, “But, the right to be able to protect yourself and your family, is obviously something that we would be supportive of, except in this case, we’re just asking people to use some common sense.”
Crea said most gun owners are trained to use their common sense.
“I’ve had a permit for years, I’ve never shot anybody, I don’t want to shoot anybody, but I don’t want to die and I don’t want my family to die,” he explained.
Thousands of officers will be patrolling the Waterfront and the Indiana side of the river Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to turn out to this year’s Thunder Over Louisville.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)-- Louisville's police chief is responding to concerns relating to an FBI memo leaked to the public Wednesday.
A memo from Louisville's FBI bureau reveals raw and unverified information about Louisville's "Family" of gangs, a possible death threat, and plans to show up in big numbers at the city's upcoming Pegasus Parade. But Chief Steve Conrad says Louisville residents are safe.
"I have obviously seen the information from the FBI. I have no idea who their source is, how credible, reliable their source is. There's a lot of information in that memo that I doubt. But that kind of information informs us, provides leads and allows us to do the planning we need to do to make sure we're prepared for events that are coming our way," Conrad said.
Previous Story: Arrest sheds light on YNO group
The memo reveals the characters that make up the gang called YNO, or "Young N' Off That," a group made up of mostly middle schoolers. The same group Metro Police believe to be behind the March 22 attacks throughout downtown Louisville. The information the FBI received is that YNO went down to the waterfront that night to fight another gang, when it got out of hand.
We asked if Conrad's department had been informed about YNO and related gangs before that night.
"I wasn't, but other members of our department were," Conrad said.
Fraternal Order of Police President Dave Mutchler says this gang activity is nothing new. He told members of the Metro Council Wednesday it's almost impossible to reprimand juveniles with the current system in place, calling it a joke.
"If the juvenile justice system and the courts don't, or can't do something to let these juveniles know that when you do something, it's not acceptable. You will be punished. You will be punished harshly and if you don't learn, the next time around, you will be punished even more harshly. They're going to continue thinking that hey, this is not a big deal," Mutchler said.
When asked if a gang unit needs to be instated into the force, Chief Conrad said that's essentially what the Viper unit is for, but there's simply not enough manpower to control these groups in mass settings.
The FBI memo says the group may be armed. The FBI's early information mentions a gun train that runs through the West End. The train legally ships guns to local retailers but YNO members have found ways to get on board and steal guns.
The memo says YNO's origins may have come from Chicago, involving a group of students who later moved to Louisville and attended Frost Middle School. But the memo states, the group has since spread to other schools.
The memo also details the gangs initiation that requires people to assault someone, often someone at random or a family member.
The FBI memo said the group has threatened the life of Anthony Allen's daughter. Allen is the man who stabbed 14 year old Me’Quale Offutt to death on a TARC bus. According to social media Offutt was a part of the YNO.
The memo also said the group plans on "going deep" at the "Derby Parade."
Festival organizers said they haven't heard of any threats and will follow the lead of the police departments security detail.
No matter the case, Conrad says his officers are ready.
"We will be prepared, as we will be for Thunder, for any contingency that might come along from the parade," Conrad said.
Another matter addressed Wednesday, allegations that LMPD chose not to report earlier violence on the waterfront, in fear of tarnishing its image. Mutchler put that theory to rest saying it simply wasn't true, that there was no evidence of a cover-up.
You can find the FBI memo in its entirety here:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is asking gun owners to leave their firearms at home during this weekend's Thunder Over Louisville. His comments aren't sitting well with gun owners.
Following a rash of teen violence in downtown Louisville in late March, gun owners have been vocal about their choice to carry a firearm. Many have told WDRB through interviews, phone calls and social media that the violence downtown is why they chose to carry.
But despite the mob violence that took place in and around Waterfront Park the night of March 22, officials are assuring people that Thunder Over Louisville is safe.
"There's plenty of protection there, and we just ask people to use common sense when they come down to Thunder," said Fischer.
Common sense that Mayor Fischer says includes leaving your guns at home -- as he discourages those with conceal and carry permits to bring their own form of protection.
"I don't think it's a good idea," said Fischer. "Obviously they have a right to do that, but things can escalate when that takes place."
The mayor's comments have received a lot of attention on the WDRB Facebook page.
One person wrote: "He [Fischer] doesn't seem to realize that people with permits are law abiding citizens and the criminals are the ones that carry illegally."
Another post reads: "...By telling people not come carrying he is advertising to thugs and punks it is safe to come and wreak havoc..."
With around 1,100 law enforcement officials set to be on hand during this year's Thunder, many Facebook posts applauded the work of Louisville authorities while pointing out that officers aren't at every turn.
One person wrote: "The law enforcement personnel here do an excellent job but they can't possibly be at all places at all times. I am responsible for my own safety and for the safety of my family."
Conceal and carry permit holder Kelly Hayes agrees, and says he will be carrying a firearm on Saturday.
"When someone is threatening me or my family, are you going to take out your cell phone and make a phone call and hope they get there in time, or are you going to protect yourself?"
Hayes says he has never had to use his gun in self defense, nor does he want to -- but he wants the option. And he questions whether the Mayor enjoys the same protection.
"I wonder if he has people watching him that carry guns and if he is going to ask them to put down their weapons?" asked Hayes. "Because I bet he doesn't."