Old Port merchants say Tuesday morning’s fatal shooting, while unsettling, probably won’t have any long-term impact on the area’s robust summer tourist activity.

Portland police said two people were shot inside the building at the northwest corner of Market and Fore streets in the Old Port shortly after midnight at the tail end of Memorial Day weekend, which marks the beginning of Portland’s tourist season. The incident occurred inside a second-floor studio for independent recording label Da Block Records, according to the studio’s owner.

One of the victims was killed and the other was hospitalized, but is expected to make a full recovery, according to police.

Nearby business owners and employees said they were shaken up by news of the incident, which was unlike anything they could remember.

“It’s really scary,” said Marissa Glover, sales associate at Siempre Mas clothing store, at 377 Fore St., two buildings down from the site of the shooting. “Generally you don’t hear about shootings and stuff (in the Old Port).”

Glover said customers and merchants in the area were still processing psychologically what happened, and that people were doing their best to get on with business despite being “just a little freaked out.”

“I’m a little weirded out by it, but I’m not going to let it stop my day,” she said.

Steve Hewins, executive director of Portland’s Downtown District merchants association, said it is too soon to know the impact on tourism from Tuesday’s fatal incident.

However, he said shootings are rare in Portland, and that a single incident would not likely change the city’s reputation.

“Portland is a very safe city, statistically,” Hewins said.

Portland averaged 2.7 murders per year between 2003 and 2012, or roughly 2 murders per 100,000 residents annually, according to City-data.com. That’s slightly more than one-third the national average of 4.7 murders per 100,000 residents annually. In the broader category of violent crimes (murder, rape, assault and robbery), Portland had 2.8 incidents per 1,000 population in 2013 versus a national median of 3.8, according to FBI statistics.

Because crime in Portland is so low, any type of violence is likely to receive more attention than it would elsewhere, he said. Still, Hewins said a single, isolated incident will not generate enough backlash to hurt the local tourism economy.

“I don’t think it will have any effect on tourists,” Hewins said. “They probably won’t even know about it.”

Adam and Elizabeth Riley, tourists visiting Portland from the United Kingdom, were wandering around the Old Port on Tuesday with their infant daughter. The Rileys said they had not heard about the shootings, nor did they have any knowledge of the city’s crime statistics.

“It seems safe – it feels safe,” Adam Riley said.

Will the knowledge that a fatal incident occurred one block away from where they were standing deter the couple from returning to Portland?

“No – it happens,” Adam Riley said.

One business owner across the street from the shooting was standing in her doorway Tuesday, looking pensive. The owner of Fore Street Gallery at 372 Fore St., who would not give her name, said that while she did not think the shooting would impact her business, she was nonetheless in a state of shock.

“I’ve been here 17 years. I’ve had three broken windows – that’s all,” she said. “I saw (a report about the shootings) on the news and I said, ‘That’s my block! Holy smokes!’ ”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 207-791-6390 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: jcraiganderson


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