Shooting unnerves Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, but it remains among city's safest
Published: Friday, June 18, 2010, 9:00 AM Updated: Friday, June 18, 2010, 5:58 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Residents in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood usually come together whenever one of their own is in need.
When a fire destroyed the old Grumpy's Cafe in 2004, residents and proprietors held a fundraiser to help the business reopen. When Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman's home was firebombed in 2008, people gave him cash and gift cards to help out.
So when neighbors and businesspeople learned that Jeffry Chiplis, a popular neighborhood artist, was shot after two men tried to rob him on West Third Street hill near Literary Road this weekend, they did what came naturally -- they tried to reach out and help.
Tremont is one of Cleveland's safest and most eclectic neighborhoods
. Between 2005 and 2009 -- the most recent years for which data were immediately available -- the area had a violent-crime rate about 25 percent lower than the city as a whole, according to a Plain Dealer analysis of Cleveland police data.
The violent crime rate fell in Tremont and the city as a whole between 2007 and 2009. The number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents in Tremont dipped below 12 per 1,000 residents in 2009.
Tremont residents were outraged by Chiplis' shooting and have organized a meeting with city officials and police next week to talk about ways to combat crime in the community made up of gourmet restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops and historic homes.
Chiplis, who was shot in his lower back, is still being treated for his injuries at MetroHealth Medical Center. He was listed in good condition Thursday. His family declined to comment earlier this week.
Chiplis owns the Jeff Chiplis Studio on Jefferson Avenue. The internationally known artist specializes in neon light artwork and has created numerous sculptures that appear in Tremont and galleries across the state.
Some business owners and residents of the neighborhood are upset about what happened to Chiplis and said they believe it was an isolated incident.
"With the way people walk around this neighborhood, it is shocking," said Kathy Owad, who owns Grumpy's Cafe. "Tremont is still in the city, so you have to be careful, but we want people to feel safe when they come here."
Though crimes that involve guns in this part of town are rare, crime statistics show that property thefts in Tremont rose between Jan. 1 and May 10 compared with the same period last year.
Residential breaking and entering in the neighborhood is up 63 percent from a year ago. Theft from automobiles is up 46 percent, and vehicle thefts are up 12 percent.
Second District Police Commander Keith Sulzer said police are investigating Chiplis' shooting but that they have no solid leads on the two attackers.
"It's not a violent neighborhood but when violence hits a neighborhood like that, they really take notice," Sulzer said.
He said he will address residents' safety concerns at the community meeting scheduled for next week. He will urge them to be vigilant but not fearful.
"No matter how familiar you are in a community, you always have to be on guard," Sulzer said. "Don't walk down dark, isolated streets, and whatever you do, comply with what the robbers want because whatever you have is not worth being shot over
Councilman Cimperman said his office received more than 100 calls from Tremont residents and people who visit the neighborhood because they want to assist Chiplis and his wife, Cynthia.
Cimperman said next week's meeting at St. Joseph Hall will center on how the community can come together to stop violence and ways residents can protect themselves from crime.
"The fact that this is an act of violence against one of our neighborhood founders has really upset a lot of people," Cimperman said. "The Tremont community is going to rally together like we always do and give Mr. Chiplis some neighborhood love."