Local News

Downtown stabbing 'not the norm,' business owners say

Posted August 2, 2010 12:14 p.m. EDT
Updated August 2, 2010 7:57 p.m. EDT

— The stabbing of a store owner in one of the oldest parts of downtown Raleigh is not the norm, local business owners say.

Raleigh police arrested Fred Rogers Bryant Jr., 48, Monday afternoon in connection with a stabbing earlier in the day at the men's clothing outlet, Looking Good, at 301 S. Wilmington St.

The victim, identified as Jaiprakash Bhatia, 64, was taken to WakeMed for treatment of injuries that police said did not appear to be life-threatening.

Bryant was charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury in connection with the crime.

Police said after committing the robbery and assault, Bryant took a taxicab to Idlewild Avenue, where he entered a home. A short time later, he was arrested by police as he left the residence.

Investigators said it appears the crime stemmed from a robbery attempt.

"All I saw was many officers arrive on the scene and the store owner step out of his store with a bloody shirt," said Marlene Horowitz, a sales associate at the neighboring Reliable Loan and Jewelry.

Business owners say the crime was rare for the area, an older district in downtown that the city has been looking to gentrify.

The economy has been a factor – some who own the older properties are not willing to sell at a price the economy can support, said David Diaz, president of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

"While I think we've seen some investment on Wilmington Street, it still hasn't lived up to its potential," Diaz said. "Property owners have wild expectations about the value of their property."

Despite the stabbing, Diaz said, downtown still is an appealing combination of the old and the new.

"All of that is what is downtown," he said. "I think, for the most part, we get a lot of people walking through downtown and they feel very safe, as they should."

Thousands of people, Diaz added, attended the downtown street festival, Raleigh Wide Open, on Saturday.

City officials estimated about 100,000 people attended the event. There were no serious reports of crimes.